Art , Tram and the Lisbon Sky
A few months ago, for the needs of our graduate course on Smart Cities, our Professor Betty Tsakarestou challenged us to explore the globe and find out what makes a city sustainable, smart or simply better for its habitants to live in. Our team (Christina Charalampidou, Marieta Christopoulou and Effie Tzoumani) chose Latin America to begin with and then slowly moved to our most familiar continent, so here are some of our favorite European City Stories: Lisbon, Berlin, Barcelona, and Istanbul.
Lisbon, capital of Portugal is a city that has been facing economic problems and the relative shortage of public capital investment funds. Despite severe economic austerity and resource constraints Lisbon is now giving high priority to investment in the city’s public spaces and associated facilities.
A high quality public space reinforces the city’s sense of place, and underpins the mantra of ‘rehabilitation, rejuvenation and regeneration’. The quality of the public realm is widely acknowledged as being essential to the creation of environments that people wish to live and work in. High quality public realm can produce measurable beneﬁts to the local economy, health, social well-being and safety, as well as enhance the value of adjacent real estate and encourage greater economic activity. Research has shown that there is a positive, signiﬁcant and consistent value added to private business by maintaining and improving the public realm. Research has also conﬁrmed the health and social beneﬁts of public realm improvements, particularly pedestrian-oriented environments.
The GAU — Office for Urban Art — a part of Lisbon’s municipality has engaged or cooperated in several campaigns to promote urban art. There has been given a particular focus to Graffiti and Street Art and their role in the construction of the city’s image as well as their inter-action with the public — or the citizen — in a broader scope, detaching the artistic practice from social issues or community murals. One of the key aims is to leverage residents and visitors already in the city and then extend this creative way to market Lisbon.
The iconic trams of Lisbon do not go unnoticed to anyone. Neither they nor the wires that provide them with energy and that are spread across the city’s most charismatic neighborhoods. So, Lisbon has come up with a smart marketing campaign to market the city, using its iconic tram and the electric lines. It has created a new font, called LX Type, based on the criss-crossing tram lines over the city skyline, where each alphabet and number stands for an attraction visitors can go to, using the public tram in Lisbon.
On the website lxtype.pt, where it can be explored and downloaded for free, everyone can test the font and find out a place associated with each letter, transforming words in spontaneous and personalized guides of the city.
It’s easy to see how this campaign, for now just an online font, can be extended in many ways, including involving visitors to the city taking photos of the tram lines, creating their own creative letters out of them, and using social media to share them. Then other merchandise like t-shirts and other creative souvenirs built around this font and enhance the dissemination of the story.
See our presentation here.
Report/Lisbon: Valuing the Public Realm, The Academy of Urbanism