Publication Date

Spring 2023

Committee Members

Frank Sleegers Carolina Aragon Isabel Martinho da Silva,


Public open space is a fundamental and imperative constituent of contemporary urban infrastructure. As a resolute fixture of the built landscape, public space, especially green space, represents the sites and settings of public life, ideally functioning as the primary urban forum for political action and community representation, social interaction and integration, physical recreation, civic participation, and a variety of ecosystem services including stormwater management (Carmona et al., 2003, Chen, 2017). However, despite the socio- ecological significance of public open spaces in facilitating a cohesive and environmentally sustainable public realm, over the past half-century, cities throughout the Global North have been experiencing a paradigmatic shift from utilitarianism to an urban landscape that is increasingly being characterized by privatization (Colding et al., 2020, Carmona et al., 2003). As a result, the ratio of public to private open space is diminishing, further enabling direct losses of urban green space and fragmentation of tenuous urban habitats (Colding et al., 2020; Guitart et al., 2012). In this context, urban allotment gardens function as crucial and enduring green spaces that embody the means to attenuate urban congestion and remedy certain socio-environmental afflictions (Lawson, 2005). Despite being ostensibly peripheral public spaces, allotment gardens are a promising medium for enhancing well-being and bolstering socio-environmental resilience for individuals, communities and the natural environment (Okvat, 2011). Historically, allotment gardens have emerged in response to various anthropogenic and natural disturbances and were primarily used for cultivating food crops by urban-dwellers with limited access to adequate, arable land (Okvat 2011; Lawson, 2005). However, albeit food production and recreation remains the principal motivation for the establishment and maintenance of allotment gardens in the Global North, in recent years these spaces have been experiencing a resurgence and are more readily being developed into multimodal, vegetated agoras which provide a variety of provisioning and regulating ecosystem services as well as space for physical recreation, economic development, and social engagement (Hou 2017; Smith, Meerow, Turner, 2020). As such, urban allotment gardens may be considered a preeminent component of urban green infrastructure networks and their integration into existing and proposed green infrastructure initiatives is indispensable. In contrast to other forms of urban green space—such as public parks or plazas—allotment gardens are highly dynamic spaces that people create and care for themselves and therefore maintain a unique and innate capacity to facilitate social interaction and communal solidarity (Hou, 2017). Given their characteristic dynamism and empirical socio-economic and environmental capacity, urban allotment gardens evidently offer considerable design opportunities for landscape architects. Like other public spaces, in order for urban allotment gardens to maintain their position as permanent and salient features of the built landscape, their aesthetic and ecological design must be valued and be of high quality. Accordingly, this project examines the various spatial and design principles, materials, and typologies associated with the implementation of equitable and multifunctional urban allotment gardens. In order to illustrate these planning and design principles in practice, this project presents a conceptual design for the integration and implementation of a series of allotment gardens and public open spaces in the Lordelo do Ouro neighborhood in Porto, Portugal. In 2018, the municipal government designated the Urban Rehabilitation Area (URA) of Lordelo do Ouro. In accordance with the strategic and operational framework for urban development established in the 2021 Municipal Master Plan for the City of Porto (Plano Diretor Municipal do Porto or PDM), municipal agencies aim to develop and implement various projects and policies in the Lordelo do Ouro URA that respond to the following ob- I. PROJECT OVERVIEW DocuSign Envelope ID: C715D8CF-D888-4407-89BC-4E47673DFA76 10 11 jectives; 1) Strengthen socio-spatial cohesion and connectivity by rehabilitating degraded buildings and promoting new employment opportunities for residents; 2) Promote mixed-use development and alternative economic activities; 3) Improve landscape quality through the rehabilitation of public spaces; 4) Stimulate civic participation (CMP, 2021). The municipal Master Plan outlines several strategies for achieving the aforementioned objectives including the implementation of a network of productive agricultural spaces such as allotment gardens and orchards (CMP, 2021). The subsequent design proposal presented in this project aims to thoughtfully address the aforementioned socio-environmental objectives within and directly alongside the Lordelo do Ouro URA and prioritize the integration of a green infrastructural network of urban allotment gardens and public spaces including and adjacent to the existing Condominhas allotment site. Located along the Douro River, this territory faces significant environmental vulnerabilities and social challenges such as the degradation of public spaces and buildings, difficulties of internal accessibility, stigmatization associated with the high concentration of public housing, higher crime rates, and a lack of opportunities for many residents (CMP, 2021). The curvilinear shape of the site is a response to the Ribeira da Granja stream which is currently channelized under the site and feeds into the Douro river. It is the largest urban stream in Porto and there are currently projects that aim to daylight the stream in various parts of the city. As a conceptual model, this design proposal aims to inspire municipal planners, landscape architects, residents, and other local stakeholders in the Porto metropolitan area with regard to the environmental, social, economic, and aesthetic capacity associated with the implementation and integration of innovative, equitable, and ecologically sustainable allotment gardens and public green spaces. Altogether, this project serves to extend the discussion on the opportunistic value of urban agriculture and provide a more long-ranging view on why the spatio-temporal disposition of urban allotment gardens may have to be reconceptualized and reframed in order to better respond to and reflect contemporary urban conditions and perspectives through sincere public outreach, community education, fervent political engagement, and thoughtful landscape architectural design.