Unit 2: Tangible Heritage

David Knight and Cristina Monteiro
Kingston University School of Architecture & Landscape

What should be protected in a World Heritage site that continues to be a functioning city? In Porto, Portugal’s second city, today’s focus on the preservation of façades means that social structures present for 2000 years are erased overnight in the name of preservation and the tourist economy, resulting in a hollowed-out urbanism where heritage is no more than skin deep.

We began the year by investigating the potential of a façade to offer more than just a heritage-friendly skin. Then, on the first of two trips to Porto, we documented a series of urban blocks within the city’s World Heritage site to understand their tangible and intangible qualities, whilst also making a comparative study of radical housing prototypes built in Porto’s mid-century suburbs.

Our proposals for new urban quarters work with Porto’s ancient and modern popular urbanism and use heritage, tourism & policymaking as tools rather than constraints. Students have produced urban proposals for three sites in Porto: one in the tourist heart of the city’s heritage site, one on its post-industrial periphery, and one just outside the city walls in an area ignored by the city’s heritage industry.

AJ Standout Student Weng Liu

Critics: Shumi Bose, Mark Brearley, Alison Crawshaw, Daisy Froud, Steven Harp, Eleanor Hedley, Lewis Jones, Manuel Montenegro, Ben Pearce, Bernd Schmutz, Francisco Sousa Rio, Finn Williams.

Image: Weng Liu.