Lisbon, Portugal

Main issues must be clearly stated

"Conversa de café" (or "world café") is a methodology for discussing ideas that has been adopted by Lisbon City Council in participatory processes. It was used, for example, in the debate on the Almirante Reis axis, which took place before the summer, and also in the Citizens' Council. Now, the municipality is applying this technique to the participatory process it has decided to initiate for Largo do Rato, which should culminate in the drawing up of a new requalification project.


Lisbon, Portugal

Main facts/points outlined in body of text

  • In 2014, Lisbon City Council presented the Uma Praça Em Cada Bairro (A Square in Every Neighbourhood) program, an ambitious public space initiative with the aim of redeveloping a series of squares and plazas throughout the city, giving new centralities to the neighborhoods.
  • At the time, 30 priority squares were identified for intervention by 2017. Largo do Rato, "perhaps the most intricate road junction in the city, where several important old streets converge", as it was described, was one of them. Diagnostic work and a preliminary study were carried out, and there was a public participation event in 2015, but the work never materialized.
  • The plan involved extending the southern promenade of Largo do Rato to encourage commercial activity in the area and also create a space for people to stay, reinstating streetcar 24 (this was done in 2018 without altering the Largo), improving the pedestrian crossing of the Largo through new pedestrian routes, reorganizing all the road traffic with the introduction of a traffic circle, and removing the parking lot next to the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição to create another pedestrian area and place to stay, among other aspects.
  • For around two hours, the participants - who had signed up on the council's website to take part in this initiative - were organized into four groups, distributed around four tables; each table had a macro-theme (or pillar) associated with it: Environment, Connectivity, Heritage and Safety. The groups rotated through the different tables/themes so that everyone had the opportunity to discuss all the topics.
  • The first coffee chat was promoted by the municipality as part of the Bairro Real festival, an initiative of Príncipe + Real, an association that aims to bring together the people and organizations of Príncipe Real, a territory without formal boundaries. This conversation brought together people of different ages and backgrounds, who were selected from the applications received to represent as diverse a sample as possible.
  • Despite the differences, it was possible to identify consensual ideas - at the various tables, for example, there seemed to be unanimity on the need to reduce car traffic and increase the space for people to walk or enjoy the square, but there were differences of opinion on how to do this; while some proposed taxing the entry of cars into the city, others suggested measures to reduce car space as a disincentive to their use.

More information: lisboaparapessoas.pt