Monte Xisto Urban Regeneration

Monte Xisto is one of eight hills that form the parish of Guifões, on the banks of the river Leça, in Matosinhos. The site was originally a granite quarry. Gradually, attracted by the late industrialisation and the construction of the city’s port, many people, arriving mainly from the countryside, started to settle there. The site is characterised by its single-family houses built with basic elements and materials (tiled roofs, plastered walls, decorative gratings, tiles imitating stone, etc.).

At first glance, this urban topography might seem to expand irrationally, but its structure is clear: a kind of fishbone pattern with a central spine, which stretches over the summit of the hill, with several side-streets emanating at angles along the steep slopes, many of them ending in narrow stairways leading to agricultural fields down in the valley. A secondary structure of alleys and passageways connects private houses and annexes. Overall, this dense urban fabric lacks places for collective living.

This project nurtures the neighbourhood’s history and authenticity, in an attempt to avoid the standard and somewhat sterile arrangements of formal planning. The proposal aims to consolidate the slope of Monte Xisto, through interventions in housing and new public spaces. In order to regenerate the area, some houses will be demolished – those whose structure is unsuitable for conversion – and new houses will be built close to the original location to rehouse the affected families.

These demolitions were agreed with both residents and officials, forming a solution that, so far it seems, satisfies all parties. This compromise proposal was reached through long conversations with both the higher spheres of local power and the citizens directly involved. Hopefully, this mediation process will show the way to resolving a case that seemed to have reached a dead end.