Lisbon City Council has given the green light to demolish this mansion. It used to house tourists, now it’s going to be housing

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It’s the Touzet Palace in Alcântara

Lisbon City Council has approved the demolition of Palacete Touzet, in Alcântara, with the preservation of the façades, to build a new building, a project proposed in 2017 for tourist accommodation, which was put on hold and will now be used for housing.

In a private meeting of the municipal executive on Wednesday, the architectural project for the mansion located at Rua dos Lusíadas 15-17 was approved with the casting vote of the mayor, Carlos Moedas (PSD), who governs without an absolute majority, after a tie between votes for and against.

The proposal was made possible by the abstention of the three councillors from Cidadãos Por Lisboa (elected by the PS/Livre coalition), since there were seven votes in favor from the PSD/CDS-PP leadership and seven votes against from the rest of the opposition, namely three from PS, two from PCP, one from Livre and one from BE.

The architectural project to intervene in this mansion in Alcântara was initially proposed at a town hall meeting in 2017 by the then Councillor for Urbanism, Manuel Salgado (PS), but was never voted on, the process having been suspended as part of the consideration of a petition in favor of preserving the property as a “historic and heritage building”.

“At the time, the current Councillor for Urbanism requested that meetings be held with the architect and the applicant to find a solution that would best fit in with the site and prioritize the preservation of the existing building. At the time, the proposed use was tourism,” said Lisbon City Council (CML) in a response to the Lusa news agency.

Between 2018 and 2022, CML notified the company requesting the project, Imolapa – Imobiliária da Lapa, Lda, “three times”, as the owner of the property, so that changes could be made to enhance the pre-existing building, and several working meetings were held between the Urban Planning services and the authors of the project, Pardal Monteiro Arquitetos, “but no official changes were ever submitted to the process”.

According to the council, the building’s state of repair has deteriorated and, “with the exception of the façades and the stairwell, the entire construction is in an advanced state of disrepair”.

“The current solution, corrected in 2023 and now approved at a town hall meeting”, at the proposal of the Councillor for Urban Planning, Joana Almeida (an independent elected by the “Novos Tempos” coalition – PSD/CDS-PP/MPT/PPM/Aliança), “respects the scarce heritage values that can be preserved, specifically the main façade”, said the CML, stressing that, unlike what was proposed in 2017, “the current project changes the use to collective housing, instead of tourism, which will increase the supply of housing in the parish of Alcântara with 15 more dwellings”, of which one studio, one one-bedroom, five two-bedroom, three three-bedroom and five four-bedroom.

The municipality also pointed out that the permeable area of the patio included in the project complies with the criteria of Lisbon’s Municipal Master Plan (PDM), with “37% being considered permeable area, which is above the 30% established as the minimum value”, because the calculation is not based on the total plot, but on the total area of the patio.

Dating from 1888, the building was the workshop/headquarters of the Touzet construction company, founded by the French builders Charles Vieillard & Fernand Touzet, authors of much of the industrial heritage built in Lisbon, such as the architectural complex of Central Tejo.

In September 2023, the Fórum Cidadania Lx association warned of the “imminent danger” at Palacete Touzet, as “the door has been wide open for several days now, waiting in all likelihood for a catastrophe that will finally enable the demolition of the entire historic complex (patio included), as intended by some”.

Regarding the project approved on Wednesday, Paulo Ferrero, from the association, told Lusa that “CML’s usual practice over the last 15 years with regard to ‘between the centuries’ heritage is always the same: complete demolition or make-believe rehabilitation, as in this case, in which it keeps the main façade, which is swallowed up and crushed by the ‘modernity’ of the architect Pardal Monteiro”, questioning whether the waterproofing of the patio is in line with good practice.

Justifying their abstention on the proposal, the Cidadãos Por Lisboa councillors stressed that this was “a project initially for tourism, but which has now been turned into housing, a scarce resource in the city” and regretted that CML had not considered acquiring the property, so that issues such as the preservation of the architectural heritage could have been resolved.

Among those who voted against, the PCP considered that the project “does not safeguard the built heritage and advocates an excessive occupation of the patio that does not comply with the PDM or what should be the city’s interest in an area vulnerable to flooding”, Livre defended the preservation of more architectural elements, including the stairwell inside the building, and the BE criticized the “authorization for luxury housing in historic heritage, with demolition of almost everything, keeping only the façade and having only 8% of permeable area in the patio, in the parish of Alcântara, which floods every year with floods”.

Lusa also questioned the PS council, but is still waiting for a response.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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