As Terras da Costa

Without water, sewerage and with precarious houses.

These were the living conditions of almost 500 people – approximately 100 children – who lived (and live in part) in a neighbourhood of illegal beginnings in Costa da Caparica. Named Terras da Costa, the neighbourhood in its two cores has always been composed of two distinct groups. One with origins in Portuguese-speaking African countries, mostly Cape Verdean, and others of Roma origin.

The residents of the core, which lie next to the Rua do Juncal, were reallocated in March 2016, today there are still about 50 families, mostly from Cape-Verde, Guinea and São Tomé.

There is no official data on the genesis of the neighbourhood, but it is known that it started as agricultural support houses, sometime during the late 1970s. From an aerial photo in 2001, we were able to identify the consolidated neighbourhood.

From isolated to visible territory

Terras da Costa was a hidden neighbourhood, due to its natural geography, or intentionally - just as in the opening image of the official page of the former Parish Council (2013) in which a photograph was taken from the top of the ancient cliff and where the lettering Junta de Freguesia (Parish Council) carefully covered the houses in the neighbourhood so that only the sea and residential towers could be seen.

Ateliermob started to work with this community in the workshop “Noutra Costa”, promoted by the Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa. Right after the end of the workshop, the collective Fronteiras Urbanas and ateliermob met, and among other things, the problem of lack of water in the neighbourhood and possible solutions were discussed. It was soon understood that solving a specific problem required a considerable collective effort and that the pressure of setbacks required organizational reinforcement around the Residents' Association. It was at a neighbourhood’s meeting that the desire to have the Terras da Costa Community Kitchen was formalised.

In several meetings with the Municipality of Almada, ateliermob proposed to deal with the immediate future and the problem of access to water, it was also communicated in some reports of violent police operations, in the area of Terras da Costa, which went beyond the limits of public security.

In August 2013, the Colectivo Warehouse donated the wood, to the Terras da Costa project, which originated from the dismantling of the Cova a Vapor project. And here begins a partnership that continues to this day. On December 8, 2014, the Terras da Costa Community Kitchen is formally inaugurated, and the water finally reaches the neighbourhood, creating an atmosphere of great joy.

With the Community Kitchen now materialised, at an impasse as to what would happen in the neighbourhood and whether there were conditions for the technical teams to continue working, the Building of the Year 2016 Award in the public architecture sector, was awarded by Archdaily. The idea that visibility is central to the struggle for these sites remains.

This story would not have been possible without the resilience of the residents of the neighbourhood, without the support of the Almada City Council and the Municipal Water and Sanitation Services of Almada, and also the financial support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation through its Human Development Program.



23rd - 29th June

Workshop Noutra Costa

Between the 23rd and 29th of June 2012, the Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa held the workshop Noutra Costa, aimed at architecture students. Ateliermob was invited by anthropologist Filipa Ramalhete and the architect Pedro Campos Costa, to guide one of the groups of students. The workshop was mediated by Euclides Fernandes, a resident of the neighbourhood who worked on the Fronteiras Urbanas project, which proved to be an essential agent for the development of the final proposal.

29th June

Ball Game in Terras de Lelo Martins, within the scope of the Noutra Costa workshop.


In November 2012, ateliermob had its first meeting with the municipality of Almada.

The municipality began by making clear its total unavailability to start any process of urban regularisation of the neighbourhood.



Community decision that constructing the Kitchen was a priority step.

13th March

The design work developed by Studio AH-HA allowed the creation of all the imagery related to the Kitchen.

22nd March

Honourable Mention in the Crisis Buster Prize of the Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa.

22nd March

Project financed by the Gulbenkian Human Development Program of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

28nd June - 1st July

Ateliermob was selected to present the idea of the Community Kitchen at the 7th Edition of the EME3 Architecture Festival in Barcelona.


The arrival of Colectivo Warehouse.

Alexander Römer, a member of the Franco-German collective Exyzt, contacts ateliermob to donate the wood, to the Terras da Costa project, which would originate from the dismantling of the Cova do Vapor project.


Choice of the plot for the construction of the Kitchen and cleaning of the site by the team and residents.



After an expected period of 5 months and still, without financial support, the first phase of the construction of the Community Kitchen began, which lasted two weeks.

April - May

Workshops and events held.

5th May

The first and most important meeting took place in the Terras da Costa, with several urban municipalities and Municipal Water Sanitation Services of Almada. It was announced that the municipality would support the kitchen, and that water would be provided free of charge.

23rd July

With the Community Kitchen under construction and maintaining the idea that visibility is central to the struggle of these areas, an invitation emerges to participate in a program with a wide audience on a mainstream free-to-air television channel (Boa tarde, SIC).


In early August, the second phase of the project started, on a larger scale than the first.

September - November

The organisation of events and activities in the Kitchen, such as: theatre performances, painting workshops, projection of animated films and other activities for children, production of organic soap and sewing workshops.

During this period of construction, the Kitchen immediately acquired the function of a community centre.

8th December

The Terras da Costa Community Kitchen is formally inaugurated. More so, water finally reaches the neighbourhood.



All illegal electrical connections were dismantled, generating enormous tension in the neighbourhood.

Faced with the unsustainability of the situation, the Municipality of Almada promptly provided an emergency generator that ensured the supply of electricity for the following months.


9th February

Winners of the 2016 ArchDaily Building of the Year Award, in the category of public architecture, with the Terras da Costa Community Kitchen / ateliermob + collective warehouse.


Resettlement of all the residents of the Rua do Juncal cluster, which was still part of the PER program, although with the promise of being able to be integrated in the future resettlement process.


At the end of April 2016, the technical team met with the members of the Residents' Association, informing them of their availability to start work with a second set of funding from the Gulbenkian Foundation.

14th May

In the form of a neighbourhood council, a meeting was held with all residents to explain intentions, determine limits of action and also describe the method and phases of proposed joint work.

This stage of the work was an attempt to build a series of basic premises for the resettlement process that could serve as a guide for the municipality's action.

July - October

Three distinct phases of work were defined. It started with a schematic survey of each of the houses, followed by a survey, a collective mapping and finally the choice of the possible location of the new neighbourhood.


A working session included residents, and answering questions that seem decisive.



The first electricity bill arrives in the neighborhood.


The promised resettlement solution was slowly being postponed until after the 2017 municipal elections.

1st October

The Democratic Unitarian Coalition (CDU) that led this municipality since 1976 unexpectedly lost the elections to the Socialist Party.

The unexpected break in the political cycle deepens the feeling that a cycle of work is also coming to an end for us.