Due to its particular morphological and geographical condition, the city of Lisbon maintained a strong agricultural character until the second half of the last century. The inner city was surrounded by flourishing productive lands that gradually disappeared under the increasing urban pressure of the last decades.
Marvila, located in the eastern part of Lisbon, is a recently urbanized area which still presents evident traces of its past agricultural occupation. New infrastructures and multi-storey buildings do not take into account the natural resources of the area and cut a territory that had long followed the slow pace of the rural world. The railway line, together with the embankments necessary for its construction abruptly divides the territory, crossing the old productive lands and denying direct access from the former agricultural plateau to the riverfront. Large areas have been abandoned and have lost their original identity over the years, becoming marginal urban voids scattered throughout the territory; the lack of qualified neighborhood public spaces has therefore led to social and ecological issues.
The controversial nature of this territory, full of urban voids, constitutes a potential for future urban planning: old agricultural lands that survive in dispersed allotment gardens suggest the proposal of new public spaces devoted to production, necessary to support modern urban agriculture practices.
Over the past few decades, more and more cities have promoted short food supply systems as possible solutions to feed the overgrowing urban population in a sustainable way. In Marvila, an integrated management of natural resources could potentially resew the lost connection between abandoned marginal areas and their inhabitants. The legacy of the ancient agricultural world could therefore become the unifying element of a territory that has lost its original identity over the years.
Flora Del Debbio, born in 1995, is an Italian photographer with an architectural background. The architectural studies that she carried out in Lisbon sparked her interest on the way we perceive, live and transform the built space. Photography becomes for her a tool able to explore and understand hidden socio-spatial relations that define our contemporary landscapes.
© text and pictures by Flora Del Debbio