From Factory wasteland to an up and coming neighbourhood

In 1998, Portugal hosted the World Exhibition in Lisbon. The Expo’98 was organized at the neighbourhood called Parque das Nações, this area used to be an industrial area before the expo was organized there. The Expo changed the fate of this area and boosted the economic situation of Parque das Nações permanently. Apart from tourism the expo also gave room for living and working, but not all experience the change as good.

The World Exhibition is organized every couple year and is always in a different place in the world. It gives countries the chance to develop a certain area in with a certain theme. The Expo of 98 in Lisbon had the theme The Oceans. The world exhibitions could be compared to the Olympic games but then for architecture. This also means that it is not always the case that the developed areas get a boost because of this Expo, just like the areas that get developed with the Olympic games.

Parque das Nações got their boost. The still growing economy in Parque das Nações means the amount of new buildings for businesses and living are also growing. ‘The opportunities in this area have a very good prospect. Businesses keep getting more interested in the area so new projects keep on coming,’ Pedro Nunos says. Pedro Nunos is a building constructor for Teixeira Duarte, one of the biggest construction businesses of Portugal. ‘With the major growth there are always people that are not so happy with the developments. The old industrial workers still live in little houses around this area and they see their neighbourhood changing very quickly,’ Pedro says.

Just outside of the newest areas of Parque das Nações, you find older flats and small worker houses. The people that walk in the streets are mostly retired and sit in front of their house looking at what is happening in their street. An older lady called Rosa has lived most of her life in the area and has seen the change happening. ‘At first you hear about the news and you are excited to see what the expo will bring to the neighbourhood. Of course it brought a lot of improvements but the developments now will only be for the higher class and not for the old and working class like me. Prices of the houses are getting more expensive, so it drives the working class out of this neighbourhood,’ Rosa says.

Pedro has another view about the developing neighbourhood. ‘Most developments are not touching the people lives,’ Pedro says. ‘There are still a lot of old factories in the area that can be useful for growth by building something new there or by renovating the factories to give them a new purpose,’ he continues. ‘If you walk from the metro station Cabo Ruivo to the coast, you can still see the history of the area with factories that are almost falling apart.’ He says.

Parque das Nações dynamic has changed a lot the last decades. From factory wasteland to an upcoming neighbourhood that has a lot of potential and all because of the world expo. A business hotspot, attracting tourists and better living conditions. Parque das Nações has shown the world how to implement a successful World Expo.