To Shuffle and to Give Again: Construction and Destruction of a Critical Area of Porto

Sonia Alves, Flávio Nunes

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This paper aims to contribute to the debate about the causes and consequences of urban decay and urban deprivation in some parts of developed cities. ‘To shuffle and to give again’ is a wellknown expression that can also be used to describe some urban development strategies applied to these important areas. Specifically the urban regeneration process that has been conducted on a social housing district (São João de Deus – SJD) located on the outskirts of Porto, in northern Portugal. The public policies that have been, over the past decades, attempting to deal with this problematic neighbourhood, have also acted as a driving force, creating population movements across Porto. Thus, forcing residential mobility is seen as a part of the solution. This approach is criticized because it does not promote citizens’ participation in the process; in fact, it deals with people as if they were easilymoved pieces in an urban game, forgetting that this kind of policy militates against the development of social networks. This has a negative influence on the social inclusion of these families. Furthermore, the evaluation of this urban regeneration process reveals a sequence of contradictory strategies, as a consequence of political changes in the local authority. This erratic approach evolved from the application
of a range of ideas, from revitalization measures to radical solutions such as demolition. In this paper, we evaluate the impact of these decisions, not only on the demolished neighbourhood but also on those areas of the city that were used to receive SJD’s citizens, questioning whether or not this decision does not amplify the trends of urban segregation within the Porto city.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSpaces & Flows
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)15-26
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • urban regeneration
  • social housing

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