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Architects sign manifesto against new bridge in Tavira that will “increase traffic to historic centre”

Published on 12/12/2019

The “Tavira Sempre” movement is back in the news after reading out a manifesto last night during a Tavira Municipal Assembly meeting. The manifesto states that the group is “against the lack of reflection on the new bridge project over the Gilão River”.

The document has been signed by 24 architectural technicians, among them Álvaro Siza Vieira, Eduardo Souto Moura and João Luís Carrilho da Graça. The manifesto was distributed “on paper to the assembly’s deputies, the city council executive and the public”, who were present “in great weight at this meeting due to the issue at hand,” reveals Tavira Sempre in a press release.

“It is important to reflect on the process of designing and building a bridge to the historic centre of Tavira, as well as the changes that this operation will entail regarding the maintenance and safeguarding of heritage values. This cultural identity is fundamental, and concerns not only the local population, but all who visit it today and tomorrow,” it reads.

The manifesto says that “there is an urgent need for the city of Tavira to be given an opportunity to stop and rethink”, to verify the integration aspects brought up by the movement and the criteria and to confront the proactive urban management criticism from the architects who signed this manifesto.

At the end of last month, the Tavira Sempre movement organized a debate that brought together around hundred people to discuss the construction of the new bridge over the Gilão River. As they explain themselves: “In a very well-attended session there were many voices, including technicians from various specialties, who expressed concern about the harmful impact of the ongoing project and demanded more dialogue from the Tavira City Council executive.”

Participants in the movement had much criticism for Tavira Council, one person saying that they “do not understand how a bridge can be built without a mobility plan on why cars will go to areas where there are no parking spaces”.

“They are starting at the end. First they build the bridge, and then they want to thin,” lamented another individual present.

One of the most debated aspects was “the absence of an environmental impact study.” Those present seem to be of the opinion that despite it being optional, the Council should have done one regardless given the size of the project, but chose not to.

If it had done so it would be a process in which information would be freely available, which would allow the population to discuss with far more knowledge of the situation such important issues as the location, the size of the project, and the consequences for the river and the Jardim area.

Those present were perplexed “by the lack of dialogue capacity of the City Council”. They argued that “they have never heard the voices that have challenged the project over the years, including many specialized technicians, nor answered the questions often raised.”