The SAAL Process exhibition collection
The SAAL Process exhibition collection was created by the Serralves Museum and travelled to the Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA) for the exhibition “The SAAL Process, Housing in Portugal 1974–76” held in Montréal, Québec, from May 12th to October 4th, 2015. The exhibit “The SAAL Process: Architecture and Participation, 1974–76” was first shown at the Serralves Museum in Porto, from October 31st, 2014 to February 1st, 2015, and was curated by Delfim Sardo, an independent curator, essayist of contemporary art and professor at the School of Fine Arts of the Lisbon University, the Lusófona University and the Catholic University of Porto.
The Serralves Museum is a museum for contemporary art and culture in Porto, Portugal. To develop the content for this exhibition, the Museum collaborated with the Porto District Archive, the documentation center of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto (FAUP) and the Instituto Fundação Marques da Silva, in Porto
By utilizing reproductions of drawings and photographs documenting SAAL, the exhibit examined the role for architecture in a revolution. SAAL was born out of the Portuguese Revolution of 25 April 1974 and was enabled and facilitated by the temporary socialist government at the time. This compelling design process consisted of technical teams (known as brigades) led by architects in collaboration with communities with the goal of addressing the urgent housing needs of underprivileged groups in Portugal. The activity of these teams led to projects designed with the residents. Although only active for twenty-six months, SAAL produced some 170 projects, not all fully built, that involved over 40,000 families throughout the country.
Within this context the exhibit presented how the SAAL projects questioned the status of the needy and their ‘right to the city’. This debate generated a model of participation that not only challenged notions on urban planning but also spurred architects to re-examine their own social and political role.
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