A meeting space for avoiding urban disconnection and social disintegration
Marvila is an area of hopes postponed. A neighbourhood of Lisbon full of potential but actually in the middle of nowhere. Pretty close to the city centre and to the area of the Expo'98. The railroads split the district in two: on one side, social housing; on the other, a newly gentrified area close to the river, where new trendy business are suddenly appearing. Spaces appear finally disconnected and disaggregated. The challenge is how to re-use and connect its empty spaces to the lively rest of the city around.
Marvila library project appears as a new way of creating public spaces able to stitch the pieces of a city and its society. That is why first of all it was necessary to open a dialogue with the citizens in order to make the project participative, honest and democratic. It was not about offering something from the outer space, but building altogether. The point was to make the citizens participants, contributing to solving the problems of the district.
So, finally, we got the largest public library in the city, assuming its role as leverage for social inclusion, inverting the trend towards neglect that was the destiny of the area. The library is bringing something new and recovering the past of a peculiar district (restoring and re-using the former Quinta das Fontes). Marvila Library is offering a space for culture and dialogue; and a space for listening to all the people, of all ages and backgrounds. It is a social space where different realities finally meet up, assuming that the diverging dynamics of a city can collide at some point and make it stronger.