Porto, a hand full of cities
To look at one of the first maps of the city of Porto (“The Round Plan” – Planta Redonda), from the beginning of the XIXth century, is almost the same as to look at wide open hand. This is one of the first images that we so dearly keep from the first years, freshly arrived to Porto to study architecture: the hand of Porto from the expansion plans of João de Almada.
The “palm” of the “hand”, so to speak, represents its inner-wall medieval city from which five “fingers” made of streets expand. A growing hand; a hand hanging over Porto; a hand filled with Porto.
During our time as students in this city, we have been given various tools that continue helping us “seeing” Porto better. Through different scales and mediums we are able to explore, investigate and intervene in it as we can. An important side to this approach is that it calls for a tactical knowledge of things that so often hides in materials, proportions, textures, voids, etc… and so, with our hands, we experiment.
Suddenly, reality is composed by what’s in front of us, by what’s hidden, by what we think we see, by what we imagine and, especially, by what we discover. This idea of constant discovery seems to interact well with the nostalgic of what’s before: before the city, the place, the project, before us. Therefore, nothing is ever concluded, not the project nor the place.
We try to domesticate this fleeting city through pictures, movies, drawings, models, plans, maps, postcards… Without ever being able to own Porto, we can but learn how to allow a building to age, how to listen to the fishmonger’s cry, how to watch a balloon fly…
There’s not an objective Porto that we want to portray. We prefer to “suggest” Porto through this selection of works, all of them as subjective as the people who shaped them. Small patches of city that help us understand it better, along with its virtues, problems, past memories and dreams for the future. A hand(full) of cities…