The panel deals with the townscape of Portuguese urban settlements, built both in Portugal and in colonial contexts, the strategies of design and construction involved, into what extent these have resulted from processes of knowledge transfer and cultural exchanges, and their defining elements.
The panel deals with urban settlements of Portuguese origin, in which concerns the strategies of design and construction employed in their formal organization, into what extent these have resulted from processes of knowledge transfer and cultural exchanges in colonial contexts, and the defining elements of the townscape resulting from that. Portuguese urban layouts, built throughout the world, are always the result of erudite and vernacular components: they always have a geometrical basis ordering its layout, while at the same time embracing and incorporating the natural environment into the urban composition. In the latter, if not in both situations, there are processes of knowledge transfer with local cultures involved. The resulting city is neither a crystalized structure nor superficially picturesque. Built with the territory and in dialogue with local cultures, Portuguese cities were able to adopt formal solutions adapted to the multitude of situations they were confronted with. Portuguese urbanism is the simultaneous result of top-down institutional processes of planning and - one might say foremost - of bottom-up processes, which are the result of conditions established locally. By being intrinsically bound with history, the culture and physical constraints of the place, Portuguese urbanism has been able to respond to local conditions, while at the same time keeping a modus of continuity and permanence that makes its townscape identifiable through time and place. The panel evolves around such configurational and organizational patterns of relations and the processes that gave rise to them.