In search of urban centrality(s): urban planning and rehabilitation in Castelo Branco


  • Alexandra Paisana Belo DINÂMIA'CET-IUL, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa


Castelo Branco, urban rehabilitation and planning, urban programming, historic centre and public space, policentrism, urban marketing


The city of Castelo Branco rose in a walled territory, to which also corresponded, initially, the civic centre. Its location has been progressively shifting, with the historic fabric now corresponding almost exclusively to a degraded housing complex. In recent years, we have tried to reverse this situation, in particular through the implementation of the Polis programme.

Indeed, it is from this point on that the repercussions of planned actions on the old city become visible, even if they had been previously integrated into other plans and strategies. In addition, all post-Polis programmes express intentions to integrate this space with their interventions. Through the analysis of their strategies, one can also see an enlargement of the notion of centrality, focusing on polycentrism to the detriment of a polarized vision that separated the city within the walls of the expansion zones.

In spite of this, we have recently witnessed a prevalence of planning programming, promoting competitiveness through cultural actions, urban marketing and network integration, which have as an imaginary reference of public space the historical center of the city. We are then confronted with an antagonistic view of the centrality (s), on which it is relevant to reflect.

To do so, a review of the processes of valorization of historical centers, as well as the national urban planning and rehabilitation instruments will be carried out, contextualizing their application in Castelo Branco. It will also seek to clarify the current and foreseeable impact of the planned and implemented actions, indicating new perspectives in this area, namely in relation to the public space and the notion of urban center.