Lisbon, Portugal

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Registration closes on Thursday 21 March 2024 - 5PM UTC

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Alfama is one of Lisbon's oldest and most historic neighbourhoods, spanning the hillside between São Jorge Castle and the Tagus riverfront.

The competition in Lisbon has been developed by HUB-IN Lisboa - Colina do Castelo, in partnership with Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, and Lisboa E-Nova. HUB-IN Lisboa - Colina do Castelo, an innovation and entrepreneurship hub, spans the historic heart of Lisbon, encompassing six distinct neighbourhoods. Despite their unique identities, these areas collectively shape Lisbon's cultural essence. The central issue revolves around the displacement of residents, leading to building decay and increased poverty among the remaining population. 

While Mouraria faces challenges with impoverished migrant settlements, Alfama contends with increasing gentrification that continues to displace vulnerable and elderly residents. The core mission of HUB-IN Lisboa - Colina do Castelo is to foster an entrepreneurial, innovative, and creative local community while preserving the area and cultural identity.

By participating in this competition, HUB-IN Colina do Castelo aims to engage international students in co-creating solutions for the “systemic” transformation of Alfama. The goal is to develop a resilient, climate-change-ready neighbourhood with a focus on quality of life, local communities, and cultural value within a 15-minute neighbourhood concept.

Site Description

Alfama is one of Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhoods. It boasts a rich history and traditional charm that attracts many tourists. The name 'Alfama' is believed to originate from the Arabic “al-hamma” meaning "fountain of warm, good waters”. Archaeological findings highlight the neighbourhood’s development in Roman times and the influences of traditional Arab neighbourhoods. 

Nowadays, Alfama is renowned for its restaurants, Fado Houses, and “Popular Saints” festivities”. Spanning the hillside between São Jorge Castle and the Tagus riverfront, Alfama’s distinctive sloping and narrow streets, as well as the demand for tourist accommodation and investment housing, have led to many residents being forced to leave the area. 

Discover Alfama through Hub-In's Geotool for Lisbon

Key Challenges for Alfama Neighbourhood Regeneration

HUB-IN Lisboa - Colina do Castelo developed an extensive participatory engagement process that led to a summary of the main challenges presented in the Colina do Castelo neighbourhoods. These apply to Alfama and include: 

  • Safeguarding and restoring immovable cultural heritage
  • Safeguarding the area’s Intangible Cultural Heritage
  • Enhancing the area’s economic and creative fabric
  • Improving environmental sustainability and sustainable tourism
  • Retaining the resident population
  • Adapting outdoor spaces and finding multiple uses.

Specific objectives for this competition 

Through the HUB-IN Project, a vision was established for Colina do Castelo Hub, that of becoming an engine for transformation, by sharing innovative ideas and traditions that will improve the sustainability and well-being of communities. This vision is reflected in the Action Plan for the Colina do Castelo area. It has also been adapted into a set of actions that are outlined below; these actions incorporate the goals and context of the Students Reinventing Cities Competition.

  • Mission - Promote climate action that is compatible with the cultural-led urban regeneration of Colina do Castelo, and creates better living conditions for local communities;

  • Action - ​Contribute to the “Sprout Tank” Programme: Experimentation for a circular and climate-neutral Colina do Castelo.

These actions aim to create a space for trialling creative, heritage-led ideas and solutions that will help build climate-neutral and circular economy initiatives in these neighbourhoods. Solutions should champion heritage-led innovation (both social and technological). This includes helping to overcome barriers to incorporating renewable energy in historic buildings, and improving climate resilience in public spaces. 

The “Sprout Tank” Programme will create a knowledge-sharing community that brings together different opportunities, various partnerships, and experts who can provide support as mentors for pilots. The objectives for students participating in the competition are aligned with those of the “Sprout Tank”. In summary, the goal is to create innovative solutions, using the territory of Alfama and its public spaces as a laboratory, for action and experimentation.

Teams should adhere to the submission requirements for the competition. In their project proposals, teams should respond to the area’s challenges, and present solutions to improve climate adaptation and resilience. Projects can either develop prototypes, present benchmark solutions, or both. Projects should consider aesthetic, artistic and heritage characteristics,  as well as concentrating on one of the following objectives:

  1. Develop innovative solutions in outdoor spaces (eg. urban furniture) to reduce the impact of the urban heat island and heat waves. Simultaneously use these solutions to boost community interactions and improve social dynamics.

  2. Incorporate renewable energy infrastructure that is seamlessly integrated into the historical urban landscape. 

  3. Enhance the (re)use of local water resources and promote circular solutions to close the urban water cycle. Consider the tangible and intangible cultural aspects related to the ‘invisible waters’ of Alfama.

I'm interested! What next?
  • Take a look at the Site Form and access the Dataroom to learn more about the site. Both are available under the 'Documentation' tab on this page. 
  • Form your team. Feel free to fill out the Team Up Form to connect with new teammates and bring more diversity & expertise to your team. 
  • Register your team by clicking the button at the top of the page.

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