Art has the power to change the way we see and interact with the world, just like this street art intervention that’s dramatically revived a forgotten alleyway on a Portuguese island. Roma-based architecture collective Orizzontale reclaimed the core of the O Quarteirão neighborhood on São Miguel Island with the permanent installation of Casa do Quarteirão, a series of timber structures that encourage pedestrian activity, walkability, and creativity. The project was developed as part of Walk&Talk Azores 2016, an annual arts festival focused on site-specific installations in the Azores Islands.
Completed in July 2016, Casa do Quarteirão is one of the latest site-specific projects of Walk&Talk Azores, which is held every year to promote contemporary and experimental artistic creation that engages the local community and the environment. Orizzontale chose to work with O Quarteirão, a non-touristy neighborhood close to the Ponta Delgada historical city center, because its public space was completely overrun by parking lots and cars. The collective worked closely with the inhabitants as well as Italian designer Francesco Zorzi to reclaim public space in the heart of the community.
Inspired by the intimacy of the traditional Azorian homes, the architects constructed modular structures made from Cryptomeria japonica, a type of conifer endemic to the island. The transformed street features a central public square with seating bookended by two structures: an entrance pavilion called Rua Pedro Homem that provides a gathering space on one end, and a small structure called Rua d’ Acoa with a tiny terrace that overlooks the space. The structures were built in just five days with help from the community and the modular frames can be adapted and personalized to a variety of configurations that satisfy different activities.
Images via Orizzontale, by Orizzontale, Sarah Pinheiro, Rui Soares, and Màrio Roberto Carvalho