In search of the urban variable: Understanding the roots of urban planning in Portugal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article demonstrates how public control over the street was at the origin of modern urban planning in Lisbon. The increased pressure over the street in the nineteenth-century city demanded increased public intervention, which was at the roots of urban planning as practice and as a body of theory. The strategic character assumed by urban planning derived from the fact that it was at the crossroads of the most important problems that nineteenth-century cities experienced: sanitation, circulation, and beautification. The preparation of the first Portuguese law on urban planning (1864) and the first improvement plan (1881) resulted from this need to exercise public monopoly over the use of the city streets. However, the financial, political, and technical conditions defined the scope of possibilities for the programme of improvement and beautification of the Portuguese capital. This article analyses the compromises between the forces driving modernisation and the limits of the possibilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-64
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • urban planning
  • Lisbon
  • urban environment
  • circulation


Dive into the research topics of 'In search of the urban variable: Understanding the roots of urban planning in Portugal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this