Urban Devices for the City of Évora II
Proposals and Exhibition
First-year students of the Integrated Master in Architecture programme developed proposals on the topic of Follies in the academic year 2022-2023 within the framework of a UoU (University of Universities) international workshop in the Design Studio II unit. The challenge was to conceive temporary spatial structures that allow different perceptions of the identifying elements of a specific place, aiming to encourage the creation of new meanings for a transitional urban space—one where individuals do not stay but move, indifferent to what defines and characterises it. This was presented to the students as a challenge to design a temporary urban device for two public spaces in the historic city of Évora where the temporality of the place is captured. The final proposals demonstrate that it is possible to create moments of pause in a device that relates time to the enjoyment of space in a city, where the constant movement of its residents and visitors often superimposes itself on the pleasure and prolonged appreciation of its simplest values.
The two-week workshop, led by Évora, encouraged autonomy in decision-making and collaborative work with peers on the international master programme in a paired relationship. In the World Heritage City and future European Capital of Culture, first-year students served as "the eyes, skin, ears, nose, and mouth" for their peers who, from a distance, could not experience the sensations induced by these unique spaces. The final critique, with the participation of several faculty members from other architecture schools in the UoU, was a moment of sharing ideas, discussing themes, and presenting work developed in a professionally committed manner, resulting in surprising and exciting outcomes.
The aim of exploring the concept of place-making in Évora was to use perception in defining a public space for time, for relaxation, socialising, and understanding the city's identity. This involved creatively using common spaces while considering the physical, cultural, and social identities that shape a place and contribute to its enjoyment. The objectives and strategies aligned with Bruno Zevi's idea of "knowing how to see," employing a teaching method that explores concrete reality in time and space.
The Exhibition Museography, Museology, and Communication
As a second exercise, the works were exhibited in the city. The temporary exhibition designed for the Church of Salvador, located in the historic core of Évora, is the result of a second exercise carried out by ten groups of Évora students who then participated in the development and production of the exhibition. The museography group developed the exhibition details and enhanced the organisation of the visiting route and the spatial organisation of all physical display stands. The museology group curated the outputs of the intense international workshop and the subsequent development process. Finally, the communication group prepared new content, whilst considering effective communication with a non-specialised public. The videos produced during the exercise were edited, and promotional and publicity materials for the exhibition were created in the form of posters, leaflets, Instagram posts, and the dissemination of QR codes in the city.
The temporality of the exhibition's contents required consideration of the life cycle of materials, involving both students and academics in adherence to the Sustainable Development Goals promoted by the United Nations. The aim has been to encourage, on the one hand, the reuse of all exhibition support elements and, on the other hand, the future recycling of all materials produced. It is also worth noting that materials from non-renewable sources, especially plastics, were excluded.
By publicly presenting these eight proposals within and for the city, the connection between architectural education and the community from where the Architecture Master programme is delivered has been strengthened.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Sofia Aleixo, João Santa Rita
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