Four years ago, Portugals capital felt like a city on its knees. Now it is being touted as hip, cheap and innovative. But is the socialist government miscarrying Lisbons poor in its hurry to revitalise?
In Lisbon people keep telling me about the surfing. Its great. The beaches are 20 times from the beautiful, historic and lively regional centres for Lisbon. You get the best of everything: Bondi gratifies old Europe. I hear this from Patrick, a Kentuckian whose digital marketing business was formerly are stationed in Costa Rica and at another time in Bali; from Matthieu, a French life coach-and-four; and from Tariq, a British property expert. I hear it from the Yorkshire-raised, London-based Rohan Silva, whom the British press likes to describe as a tech scenester or techpreneur, and from Joo Vasconcelos, Portugals suave secretary of state for industry.
Until lately, most of the report coming out of Portugal was of what Vasconcelos calls the worst crisis in 100 times, with stories of professionals sleeping in their autoes because theyd been evicted from their residences. On my last visit, for the architecture triennale in 2013, an occurrence full of ingenious low-cost minds for resurrecting empty spaces and striving businesses, Lisbon felt like a town on its knees. Now, according to one of the 2013 triennales organisers, Mariana Pestana, theres a psychological progress. People are starting to daydream again, theyre starting to consume again. Economic change is no longer something that happens to us. There is some command. There are also early outbreaks of the number of complaints that come with urban success, rising property prices and loss of character.
Lisbon is becoming an outstanding example of what might be called Monocle urbanism, after the publication that integrates trendspotting and lifestyle admonition with social and political commentary, and which lately dedicated many pages to the Portuguese capital. For the sophisticated nomads that Silva calls the global creative class, Lisbons attractions are powerful. According to Vasconcelos, the big cosmopolitan cities of the world are more like one another, such that center London and center Lisbon are closer to each other than London is to the Brexit-voting regions of Britain.( Theorist of the liberal metropolitan elite will take note .) For the first time since the 1940 s, when Lisbon was a refuge from the campaign, articulates Pestana, the city is actually cosmopolitan.
Take Patrick Tigue of Downtown Ecommerce, the American who was formerly in Costa Rica. He has patrons all over the world, from the US to Australia, some of whom he doesnt gratify for years, if ever. Our business started to grow, and we had a problem scaling up, this is why we opened up a map and wrote down a bunch of metropolis. They had business criteria access to English orators, low cost of living, low-grade wages, a convenient hour zone and personal predilections: surfing, good weather. Berlin and Barcelona were good from the labour force perspective, but the lifestyle in Lisbon did it.
In Lisbon, he goes on, the people are extraordinary. There is always some type of music, style, artworks going on. The food is incredible, the architecture Its a big little metropoli. The real estate you feel its coming up. It was quite a gamble. I came here last year for a vacation but it was transformed into an extended stay and then into moving here permanently. Id like to stay here for the long term, to have kids here. I am that convinced.
Manifestations of the new Lisbon include reincarnations of locations first created to serve tech businesses in London. One is Village Underground, component creative community, component artworks venue, which aims to combine affordable workspaces with artistry, music and concert. In London its distinguished by four recycled Tube carriages perched in the air. In Lisbon it consists of a piling of shipping receptacles and repurposed double-decker bus, on a dramatic spot next to the citys suspension bridge.
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