Monday, 20 August 2012

Largo do Intendente

A part of my neighbourhood I find myself often gravitating towards is Largo do Intendente. It's probably due at least in part to the tiles - the place is covered in all types of them and they're in great condition... It's also a nicely (and newly) redeveloped space that seems to have a lot of art and music events going on. I looked a little further into it and discovered that, as part of one of Lisbon's more socially problematic areas, the city council has recently pushed for a wide redevelopment of the area, with the Largo being one of the first major projects undertaken to reach that goal. The city's president is so committed to the idea that in 2011 he moved his office into a building on the square (he's based in behind the tiled building above). The square is home to a couple of cafes - some old, some new - along with a great art centre encompassing studio, exhibition and accomodation space for artists, called Largo Residências. Residências also seems to engage with the local community, just one initiative aiming to enliven and (re)connect the community along with the recent Festa do Intendente and Lisboa na Rua (Lisbon in the street).

The reason Largo do Intendente is such a tile haven is undoubtedly down to the fact that in 1849 a tile factory called Viúva Lamego (pictured below) was founded there. Taking up richly decorated buildings both on the square and on Avenida Almirante Reis behind the square (recently renovated as a bed and breakfast), the factory produced both tiles and functional ceramic objects on site until the 1930s. After that most of the production was relocated but the property in the city centre was kept on as a tile shop. Production in more recent years has focussed on tiles, not only the production of traditional Portuguese patterns but also collaborations with artists. One such artist was Maria Keil, who's already gotten a mention on I Like Local. More on her work later this week.