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Symposium SAAL: A retroprospective
10 MAY 2014
This symposium will focus on SAAL - Serviço Ambulatório de Apoio Local [Local Ambulatory Support Service], aiming at a retroprospective discussion of the potentialities of participatory processes in architecture while keeping in mind internal architectural issues that were often subsumed in ideological debate.
Forty years after having been launched, as a result of the 25 April 1974 Revolution, it seems important to discuss SAAL’s interdisciplinary process from a perspective that historical distance allows, while counting on the participation of some of its protagonists.

This symposium is the starting point for a discussion that will continue until November with the inauguration of the exhibition "The SAAL process: architecture and participation, 1974-1976", on 31 October at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, and the conference "74 14 SAAL # ARQUITECTURA", organized by the Social Studies Centre of the University of Coimbra on 14 November. The articulation between these events is intended to complement the perspectives, methodologies and research tools on SAAL. 

Curator: Delfim Sardo

Note: event with simultaneous translation
: 250 people
: 15€ (includes free access to the exhibitions during the event)

Amigos de Serralves, students and seniors over 65 years
: 50% discount

09h00: Opening

09h30: Welcoming address
- Suzanne Cotter, Director of the Serralves Museum

09h45: Opening
- Delfim Sardo, curator of the exhibition ‘THE SAAL PROCESS: ARCHITECTURE AND PARTICIPATION, 1974?1976’

10h00: Introductory Speech
- Architect Nuno Portas
10h45: SAAL as transforming power
- Dr. Raquel Varela
- Architect Joaquim Moreno
- Moderator: Liliana Coutinho, Head of Education of the Serralves Museum
12h00: Participation in context
- Architect Pedro Clarke
- Architect Pedro Bandeira
- Moderator: Architect Jorge Figueira
13h15: Lunch break  
15h00: SAAL: A Retroprospective
- Architect Álvaro Siza
- Architect Raúl Hestnes Ferreira
- Architect Eduardo Souto de Moura
- Moderator: Architect José António Bandeirinha
17h00: Closing Speech
- Architect Alexandre Alves Costa


SAAL represents the architectural culture of the 25 April 1974 Revolution. It constitutes a crucial moment in the thinking of the housing problem within a politically participated context. To review that process today means to reflect upon questions of participation and their relationship to the permanence of architecture and the architectural in a flexible exercise between proximity and distancing. Amidst the situations of unparalleled experience that permeated the SAAL process, its internal tensions, its utopian formulation and an unequivocal pragmatism present in the idea of urgency, a field of affirmation of architectural thought started to form. This materialized another modernity, far from the idea of style and understood as a process. The aim is, therefore, to rethink that performativity.



In 1974?1975 an encompassing social movement had an impact on the housing sector. This movement was organized into local, democratic power structures. Tenants’ committees emerged almost immediately as local decision structures, functioning as a power parallel to the municipal councils, which were being reformed and had only limited power to deal with the issue of housing (accommodation, cultural spaces). Squatting processes lead to different projects within the same area (squatting of social housing, self-construction, squatting of empty houses and a questioning of the 1965 land ownership law). Women had an important role in tenants’ committees, which also reflects their demands and proposals. Most were emergency demands: the right to housing (with populations remaining in the same location or neighbourhood); infrastructures; kindergartens; sanitation. These committees were neighbourhood organizations ? instead of being necessarily administrative, such as in the case of parishes, theirs is a dimension that encompasses solidarity as well as conflicts, albeit related to life in common outside the workspace. Tenants’ committees saw various forms of coordination, but they were the first dual organs of power to self-coordinate, even before workers’ committees had found their forms of coordination.

The SAAL process that followed the 25 April Revolution was perhaps the most intense recent moment of what could be termed a ‘social architecture’ in Portugal. For many of the protagonists of this ‘irrational exception to the system’, who were still students, this was also a radical learning process. In the specific case of the Porto School of Fine Arts (Section Two: Architecture), at the time involved in a ‘experimental’ pedagogic process and more or less paralyzed by student protests, this process was both an extension and an alternative to the school: an extension since it emerged from the contact and communion with the local populations; an alternative as it came to being at a moment of emancipation, learning and disciplinary autonomization. The historical result of this conflict-ridden co-operation, although insignificant from the material point of view ? or even cruel in the unequal distribution of the meagre spoils of a process that was violently interrupted ? was, from the point of view of architecture, the crucible for a certain way of thinking and acting in architecture. It was the pedagogic radicalism brought about by this moment of social and urban engagement of architecture, in the particular case of one project, which will be analysed here.


‘Learning To Work Together’ showcases a work experience in contexts of stringently controlled costs and with populations in very poor economic conditions; an experience in which expectation management is a crucial element of each project. ‘Learning To Work Together’ thus refers not only to the participatory practices that make up our creative process, but also to the continuous way in which team work is part and parcel of the project, both in terms of construction and architecture, and also within different institutions (or other types of projects), as a means to attain the best possible results.

The SAAL process is invariably mentioned as unique to Portugal in terms of population ‘participation’ in architectural design. Extinct due to ideological issues and under pressure from a multitude of economic interests, the time has now come, after forty years of democracy in Portugal, to rethink the value of participatory processes. Based on the Nova Aldeia da Luz planning experience (in the context of the Alqueva Dam construction) we will seek to question the role of governments, residents, architects and, last but not least, of the media in the construction of the city and its public space to conclude that the meaning of the ‘right to the city’ cannot survive without a ‘duty to the city’. 

Alexandre Alves Costa (Porto, Portugal, 1939) is an architect and Associate Professor at the University of Porto. He holds a degree in Architecture from the Porto School of Fine Arts following an internship at the Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil with architect Nuno Portas. Alves Costa was part of the Installing Committee for the Architecture Course of the University of Porto, where he has lectured in the areas of Project and History of Portuguese Architecture. He was the President of the Administrative Council and the Scientific Council of the University and Head of its first Architecture PhD Programme. At the University of Coimbra and at the University of Minho, in 1988 and 1997, he was also on the Installing Committees for the Architecture Courses. Alves da Costa was part of the Coordination Committee of SAAL/North and Head of the Planning and Project Support Sector. He participated in the film Direito à Habitação [The Right to Housing], shown by RTP in 1976. Alves Costa was one of the four winners of the competition for the renewal of downtown Porto (zone East B) organized by the Porto 2001 European Capital of Culture. He has contributed to specialized architecture magazines (Lótus International, 9H, Domus, Wonen Tabk, Casabella, Architecti, Jornal Arquitectos, Monumentos, and Estudos/Património), was part of the editorial councils of Boletim da Universidade do Porto, the magazine Monumentos, published by the Direção Geral dos Edifícios e Monumentos Nacionais, and is a member of the editorial council of JA ? Jornal Arquitectos da Ordem dos Arquitectos. Some of his writings are published in the following books: Candidatura ao Prémio Jean Tschumi (Lisbon: Ordem dos Arquitetos, 2005), Introdução ao Estudo da Arquitectura Portuguesa e Outros Textos (Porto: FAUP, 2007) and Textos Datados (Coimbra: Edarq, 2007). He has participated in conferences in Portugal and abroad on the subjects of education, criticism and history of architecture and has been part of national and international juries. In 2008, Alves Costa received the International Association of Art Critics / Ministry of Culture Award.

Álvaro Siza Vieira (Matosinhos, Portugal, 1933) studied Architecture at the Porto School of Fine Arts between 1949 and 1955. He collaborated with architect Fernando Távora between 1955 and 1958. Siza Vieira was Professor at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto, where he lectured until October 2003, and is Visiting Professor at several other institutions. He is the author of numerous national and international projects, such as the Boa Nova teahouse, in Leça da Palmeira, the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto, the Library of the University of Aveiro, the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art and the Marco de Canaveses Church. In Holland, he directed, from 1985 onwards, the recovery plan for Zone 5 of Schilderswijk; in Spain, Siza designed the plans for the Olympic Village Meteorological Centre in Barcelona, the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea and the Faculty of Information Sciences, both in Santiago de Compostela. Siza Vieira has participated in seminars and conferences in Europe, America and Japan. He was invited to participate in international competitions and won the first place in contests such as the recuperation of housing blocks in Schlesisches Tor, Berlin; the renewal of Campo di Marte in Venice; and the remodelling of the Winkler Café and Casino in Salzburg. He is the winner of several national and international awards, such as the Architecture Award of the Association of Portuguese Architects (1987); the Architecture of the Year Award of AICA?Portugal (1982); the Gold Medal of Architecture of the Madrid College of Architects (1988); the Alvar Aalto Foundation Medal (1988), the Prince of Wales Award of Harvard University (1988); the European Architecture Award of the European Community Commission / Mies van der Rohe Foundation (1988), the National Architecture Award (1993), the Secil Architecture Award (1996 and 2000), the Wolf Foundation Award (2001) and the Alexandre Herculano National Architecture Award (2001). In 1992, Siza he was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize for lifetime achievement. He received the Doctor Honoris Causa degree from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the University of Palermo, the Menendez Pelayo University of Santander, the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería de Lima, the University of Coimbra, the Universidade Lusíada, the Universidade Federal de Paraíba and the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Pollo delle Scienze e delle Tecnologie, Naples. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science and Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, of AIA, of the Académie d’Architecture de France and of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Delfim Sardo (Aveiro, Portugal, 1962) holds a PhD in Contemporary Art and lectures at the Arts College and at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, where he coordinates the MA in Curatorial Studies. Sardo has been a curator and art critic since 1990. He is the President of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA/Portugal) and Associate Member of Institut Acte, Université Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne. Sardo was Chief Curator of the Lisbon Architecture Triennial 2010, Director of Centro Cultural de Belém Exhibition Centre and Consultant for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Delfim Sardo was the curator of the Portuguese Representation to the 48th Venice Biennale and co-curator of the Portuguese Representation to the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010. He has published works such as Julião Sarmento: Catalogue Raisonée, Edições Numeradas, Vol. I (Badajoz: MEIAC, 2007), Luxury Bound (Milan: Electa, 1999), Jorge Molder (Lisbon: Caminho, 2005), Helena Almeida: Pés no Chão, Cabeça no Céu (Lisbon: Bial, 2004), Pintura Redux (Porto: Fundação de Serralves/Público, 2006), Abrir a Caixa (Lisbon: Caixa Geral de Depósitos, 2009) and A Visão em Apneia (Lisbon: Babel, 2011). Delfim Sardo is a regular contributor to publications on art and architecture and was founder and editor of the magazine Pangloss.

Eduardo Souto de Moura (Porto, Portugal, 1952) holds a degree in Architecture from the Porto School of Fine Arts and is a Professor at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto. He worked with Álvaro Siza Vieira from 1974 to 1979. Souto de Moura was Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Architecture Paris-Belleville, at the Harvard and Dublin schools of architecture, at ETH in Zurich and at the School of Architecture of Lausanne. He has participated in several seminars and conferences and his work appeared in numerous publications and exhibitions. His projects include the Braga Municipal Market and the Braga Municipal Stadium (AXA Stadium), Casa das Artes, Manoel de Oliveira Cinema House, Burgo Building, the interventions on the Alfândega Nova Building (now the Museum of Transportation and Communications/Congress and Exhibitions Centre) and on the former Relação Penitentiary, in Porto, on the Ponte dell' Accademia, in Venice and the interventions on Faixa Marginal de Matosinhos, the Porto Subway and the Maia Municipal Square. In 2008, together with artist Ângelo de Sousa, he represented Portugal at the 11th Venice Biennale of Architecture with a co-authored project titled Cá fora. Arquitectura desassossegada [Outside. Disquieted architecture]. In 2011, Souto de Moura was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Joaquim Moreno (Luanda, Angola, 1973) holds a degree in Architecture from the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto, a MA from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitetura de Barcelona of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, a PhD in Theory and History of Architecture of the Universidad Politécnica da Catalunya and a PhD in Theory and History of Architecture from the School of Architecture of Princeton University. Aside from his architectural work, he is a lecturer at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation of Columbia University, at the Department of Architecture of the University of Minho and at the Department of Architecture of Universidade Autónoma. Together with Pedro Bandeira and Paula Pinto, he was editor of the magazine In Si(s)tu, co-curator with Alberto Carneiro of the exhibition ‘Desenho Projecto de Desenho’ [Drawing Project Drawing] on twentieth century Portuguese drawing and architecture and, together with José Gil, co-curated the Portuguese representation to the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2008. He regularly participates in conferences and publications.  

José António Bandeirinha (Coimbra, Portugal, 1958) holds a degree in Architecture from the Porto School of Fine Arts and a PhD from the Department of Architecture of the University of Coimbra with the dissertation ‘O Processo SAAL e a Arquitetura no 25 de abril de 1974’. He is Associate Professor at the University of Coimbra and researcher of the Social Studies Centre of the University of Coimbra. Bandeirinha was President of the Scientific Committee of the Department of Architecture of the University of Coimbra from 2000 to 2004 and from 2006 to 2007. He was Rector for Culture at the University of Coimbra between 2007 and 2011 and Director of the Arts College of the University of Coimbra. He was also curator of the exhibition ‘Fernando Távora: Modernidade Permanente’, which was coordinated by Álvaro Siza within the programme of the Guimarães European Capital of Culture 2012.

Nuno Portas (Vila Viçosa, Portugal, 1934) is an architect, urban planner and professor. He studied Architecture at the Lisbon School of Fine Arts and the Porto School of Fine Arts. Portas has lectured at several national and international universities, and participated in the founding of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto, where he held the position of Associate Professor. He is now Professor Emeritus. In 1974 he became Secretary of State for Housing and Urbanism, a position he held during the first three Provisional Governments, promoting the creation of housing cooperatives and Local Support Bureaus, creating SAAL ? Serviço de Apoio Ambulatório Local [Local Ambulatory Support Service] and starting the process that would lead to the adoption of Municipal Guideline Plans. He was Consultant for the Vale do Ave Municipal Council Territorial Planning, Director of the plans for the campus of the University of Aveiro, Head of the first General Plan for Expo 98 and Urban Planning Consultant for the city of Guimarães’ historical centre. Portas coordinated the Madrid Inter-Municipal Planning (1980?1983), was Consultant for the Barcelona Metropolitan Strategic Plan (1991?1992), for the Santiago de Compostela Urban Plan. He was also Consultant to the United Nations and the European Union for the areas of urbanism and research. Together with Oriol Bohigas, he authored the plans for Rio de Janeiro’s Frente de Mar and Estação das Barcas (1997?2000) as well as the city’s central zone recovery plan (1995?2000). Nuno Portas has published numerous works on theory of architecture, critical history of contemporary architecture and urbanism as well as critical articles in cinema publications. His key projects include the Sagrado Coração de Jesus Church (together with Nuno Teotónio Pereira) ? which was awarded the 1975 Valmor Prize. He received the Doctor Honoris Causa degree from the University of Aveiro and at the Polytechnic Institute of Milan, and received the Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry and the Sir Patrick Abercrombie Prize for Urbanism of the International Union of Architects.

Pedro Bandeira (Porto, Portugal, 1970) is an architect and Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture of the University of Minho. He was invited by the Arts Institute of the Ministry of Culture to participate in the exhibition ‘Metaflux’ included in the Portuguese representation at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2004 and represented Portugal at the São Paulo Biennale of Architecture in 2005. He completed his MA in 2000 with a dissertation entitled ‘Apenas o Mundo Hoje Onde As Revoluções são Impossíveis: da Ilusão à Desilusão de Pouca Arquitectura entre os anos 1960 e 1990’ (UPC). In 2007, Bandeira concluded his PhD thesis ‘Arquitectura como Imagem: Obra como Representação: Subjectividade das Imagens Arquitectónicas’. He is the author of the book Projectos Específicos para um Cliente Genérico, an anthology of works from 1996 and 2006 (Porto: Dafne). With João Figueira, Luís Miguel Fareleira, José Miguel Rodrigues and Luísa Rodrigues, he co-authored the Plan and Projects for Infrastructures and Housing for Nova Aldeia da Luz. More recently Bandeira prepared a ‘Proposal for the Relocation of D. Maria Pia Bridge’, co-authored with Pedro Nuno Ramalho.

Pedro Clarke (Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1983) studied Architecture at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto and AHO-Arkitektur Høgskollen, in Oslo, having graduated in 2007 with a final dissertation on humanitarian architecture based on his experience as a volunteer for international architecture NGO ‘Article-25’ in Lesotho. Between 2008 and 2009 he did an internship in Oslo with studio RRA ? Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter. Clarke returned to Lesotho in 2009 and, together with Camille Bonneau, was responsible for the design and construction of several buildings for NGO Sentebale, a charity founded by Prince Harry of England and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, as well as for other projects involving local partners. He founded studio A+ with the purpose of bringing architecture to all and is currently involved in projects in Europe, Brazil and Africa. He also works with London studio Lyall, Bills & Young Architects. Clarke is copyeditor for JA ? Jornal Arquitectos da Ordem dos Arquitectos and is now completing a Master in Development and Emergency Practice at the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice at Oxford Brookes University. In 2012 he was one of the winners of the Santander Student Project Awards (Oxford Brookes University, UK) with a proposal for an intervention at Parque São Bartolomeu Community, Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. He was co-curator of ‘Dear Future’, a project linked to the Lisbon Architecture Triennale. In 2014 he was part of the Portuguese representation to the 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture.

Raquel Varela (Cascais, Portugal, 1978) is an historian at the Contemporary History Institute of Universidade Nova in Lisbon, where she coordinates the Group for the Study of Work and Social Conflicts. She is a researcher of the International Institute of Social History, where she coordinates the international project ‘In the Same Boat? Shipbuilding and ship repair workers around the World (1950?2010)’. Varela is also Coordinator of the project ‘History of Labour Relations in the Portuguese Speaking World’. She has a PhD in Political and Institutional History (ISCTE ? Instituto Universitário de Lisboa). Varela is the President of the International Association Strikes and Social Conflicts, Vice-Coordinator of the Network for the Study of Work, the Workers’ Movement and Social Movements in Portugal, a member of the ITH ? International Conference of Labour and Social History (Vienna, Austria) and of the Asociacíon Historiadores del Presente. Her articles are featured in national and international journals. She has published and coordinated works such as História do Povo na Revolução Portuguesa 1974?1975 (Lisbon: Bertrand, 2014); A Segurança Social é Sustentável. Trabalho, Estado e Segurança Social em Portugal (Lisbon: Bertrand, 2012); 25 April 1974: Die Nelkenrevolution (Berlin: Laika Verlag, 2012); História do PCP na Revolução dos Cravos (Lisbon: Bertrand, 2011); Revolução ou Transição? História e Memória da Revolução dos Cravos (Lisbon: Bertrand, 2012); Strikes and Social Conflicts. Towards a Global Labour History (Amsterdam: IASSC-IHC, 2012); O Fim das Ditaduras Ibéricas (1974?1978) (Seville: Centro de Estudios Andaluces and Lisbon: Edições Pluma, 2010).

Raúl Hestnes Ferreira (Lisbon, Portugal, 1931) lectured Architecture at the Lisbon School of Fine Arts (1970?72), at the Cooperativa Árvore, Porto (1986?88), at the University of Coimbra (1991?2003), at ISCTE (2001?2003) and currently lectures at Universidade Lusófona in Lisbon (2010?14). He was the author of several architectural projects in Lisbon (José Gomes Ferreira Secondary School, in Benfica; installations of ISCTE, ICS; Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Lisbon; SAAL neighbourhood Fonsecas/Calçada; Marvila Library and the recuperation of residential and commercial buildings, including Café Martinho da Arcada and Casa das Varandas), in Beja (recuperation of a sixteenth century arcade, House of Culture and Youth and the neighbourhoods of João Barbeiro and Estrada de Lisboa), in Évora (remodelling of the Évora Museum), in Avis (Caixa Geral de Depósitos branch), in Benedita (Benedita Resource Centre) and in Seixal (Redondos’ Child Care Centre). As an urban planner, he was responsible for the Urban Development and Housing Sector in the first Territorial Plan for the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (PROTAML), coordinated by Jorge Gaspar, for Planos UNOR 40 and the Institutional Square in Lisbon; for the Portas de Mértola neighbourhood in Beja and for the Rosa neighbourhood in Coimbra. Hestnes Ferreira has published studies on Portuguese architecture, namely on the works of architects Cassiano Branco and Francisco Keil do Amaral, and coordinated the L’Architecture d’aujourd’hui (1976) issue on Portuguese architecture. His architectural works have been featured in several books and magazines, including a monograph on his work (Porto: ASA, 2002). He has participated in conferences, meetings and exhibitions in Portugal and abroad. He has received the 1982 AICA National Architecture and Urbanism Award, the 1993 National Architecture Award of A.A.P. (for the Avis branch of Caixa Geral de Depóistos), the 2002 Valmor Prize (ISCTE II/ICS) and Honourable Mentions of the Valmor Prize in 1982 (Benfica Secondary School) and 1993 (INDEG/ISCTE). He received the Doctor Honoris Causa degree from the University of Coimbra (2007), the Honorary Membership of the Order of Architects (2010), the recipient of the Medal of Merit from the University of Lisbon (2011) and the Diploma of Recognition and Merit from the Universidade Lusófona (2014).

SAAL programme was launched in August 1974 and discontinued in 1976. Constituting, at its core, the very essence of architectural culture of the 1974 Revolution, SAAL sought to solve the pressing housing problems of highly disadvantaged populations according to an organic, participative strategy. Its impact on how to think a city and, above all, on a vision of architecture as an active process of citizenship production, was crucial not only in the context of the accelerated rate of transformation of 1970s Portugal, but also as a defining moment in the affirmation of Portuguese architecture in the international context.
However, SAAL can also be understood in a broader perspective, i.e., as a moment in which the city and its housing and territorial strategies were questioned; as a possibility for both de-bureaucratized and decentralized development with its roots in a strategy that favoured the financing of construction through its promoters and according to design guidelines – and following a structure that should have been the object of a subsequent discussion.
Theoretically, SAAL was also a moment to question the primacy of planning in modernism, a spark of openness regarding the issue of the relationship between functionality, urgency and the maturation of architectural issues that had been taking shape in Portugal since the 1950s and had now come to an experimental stage.

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  • LocationSerralves Auditorium
  • Schedule09h30 - 18h30
  • Days10 MAY 2014
  • Price€ 15,00

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