The Lisbon oriental waterfront renewed: Parque das Nações as a metropolitan territory of leisure and consumption
Sociology Centro de Estudos de Sociologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa Lisbon, Portugal
Result of the conversion of an urban void - turned obsolete by the transformation and relocation of industrial and port activities - today, Parque das Nações is a privileged metropolitan space of leisure and consumption. Just as the similar projects undertaken in Barcelona and Bilbao, to name only some of the most important, it is part of the third and last generation of renewed waterfronts identified in the literature on the subject. This third generation is characterized by the fact that waterfronts are meant to be showcases of the potential, the uniqueness and the modernity of their cities, assuring at the same time that the space possess a "global" resonance that might elevate them to the condition of metropolises.
The singularity and the modernity of Parque das Nações is based on cultural equipments and public spaces that are unique in a functional point of view, as well as in an aesthetical one, as they were conceived by renowned architects. This takes part of a seduction strategy with the purpose of creating a prestigious and sophisticated image of Lisbon.
Alongside a prestigious type of cultural consumption, other types occur in this plural territory. Different metropolitan, national and international populations come together here; multiple forms of consumption and leisure activities happen here.
The activities linked to commerce don't have a purely utilitarian function; they contribute to structure lifestyles and sociabilities and are amongst the most common leisure activities. This paper presents data resulting from an approach to the consumption practices of the socially differenced populations that come together at Parque das Nações, through interviews and the direct observation of the territory. The development of a typology of consumption spaces, in a broad sense, allows to characterize them, to identify who frequent them, with which ends, and to interpret the social relations and inequalities established there.
Special relevance will be attributed to the Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre, simulacrum of the ideal city, safe and comfortable, that possess, unlike much of other shopping centres, characteristics that aim to strongly connect it to its "unique" surroundings.