Proposal Win

Cidade da Roupa Branca

City of White Washing

This project is an Associated Project of the Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2013.

The project was completed in collaboration between LeeshTagTom, Olivia Hyde, Jon Jacka, and Pedro Teixeira

Lisbon is a city of courtyards. Regardless of the era of the district, private space, in the form of the apartment block, forms the public face and barrier between the public realm and the shared but private open space of the courtyard. This deceptively simple spatial arrangement is evident across the city - from the dense fine grain of the old city, to the 18th century downtown and Salazar era axial blocks. It establishes a hierarchy of interconnected spaces and of the functions that take place in each.

Lisbon is also a city in transition, dealing with the unprecedented growth of the post Salazar years and the more recent economic challenges facing Europe. Many of the issues facing the city affect traditional spatial relationships, such as the impact of land banking on housing affordability. Our project derives from our interest in the changing face of public space.

As with most European countries, the act of clothes washing was until recently a communal event in Portugal. Communal wash houses and fountains were often significant public buildings in a town, and Lisbon retains a number of these. Whilst washing has become a private affair, drying lingers on the edges of the public realm in Lisbon, inhabiting balconies and occasionally strung across smaller streets.

In Portugal, the act of communal washing of clothes by hand was celebrated in the now cult 1938 Salazar era film "Aldeia da Roupa Branca", and specifically in the song of the same name, sung by the heroine Maria Papoila, actress Beatriz Costa.


Post Script

Our project proposal for Close Closer was intrinsically linked to the city of Lisbon. One of the unexpected outcomes was how easily the idea translated to Australia. We held our "Wash-in" event in a popular harbour side park. We wanted to put public space on trial, so we made a conscious decision not to notify the authorities. The event attracted the polite curiosity of many park visitors, with many deciding to participate or offer commentary. Some understood the event as a critique of recent political corruption allegations, most were just content to let it unfold as if it were the most ordinary thing - a regular ritual of city life.

Many thanks to Pedro Pao for all of his help

Watch the Movie!