Start date: 2003

Date of completion: 2003

Metropolitan Areas: Experiences, Mobility and Quality of Life

The urban context of metropolitan areas exacerbates and underlines the country’s environmental and planning problems, while modeling many of the values ​​and representations of public opinion on environment and quality of life. In this perspective, the metropolitan scenario is a particularly suitable space to analyze the dimensions involved in environmental issues, in the context of high urban concentration.

The two national surveys The Portuguese and the Environment (Veja, 1997 and 2000) provide a set of data relevant to the public’s knowledge of the environment and quality of life. This paper presents some of the results of these surveys, namely those concerning the degree of Portuguese dissatisfaction with their residential environment, as well as the perception of the environmental scenario in which they move in the daily life, with special attention to the residents of the metropolitan areas. The representative samples of the Metropolitan Area of ​​Lisbon (AML) and the Metropolitan Area of ​​Porto (AMP) of the 2000 survey, now analyzed, contribute to understand the contours of influence of the living space / daily life in the relationship between the Portuguese and the environment. They also provide an approach with a specific spatial focus – metropolitan spaces – where certain trends in national performance are now becoming increasingly blurred.

In fact, the transversal reading of the results allows to identify a link between the “spatial variables” and the representations and attitudes towards the environment, evidencing a daily “environmental malaise”, especially among the residents of the big urban centers. Thus, it seems interesting to explore potential trends for change and new flows of spatial movement of the population, into and out of metropolitan areas; and also identify the social profiles of those residing in metropolitan areas and reveal a great dissatisfaction specifically manifested in the desire for exit and change of habitat.

Thus, in a context of “urban disqualification” felt at national level, the present study concentrates its attention on the residents of the metropolitan areas, where this disqualification is most felt. Thus, in parallel with an objective dimension – indicators of air quality, noise levels, water quality, sanitation conditions, the existence of certain infrastructures, etc. – there is a subjective dimension corresponding to the level of satisfaction of needs (economic, social and cultural) and the assessment of the conditions for the exercise of daily urban life, in particular the level of use and enjoyment of public spaces.

We begin by presenting a summary demographic characterization of the metropolitan areas highlighting some significant transformation moments, especially those that contributed to a bipolarization process around the cities of Lisbon and Porto. The following is a brief reflection on persistent failures in land use planning and urban planning in the country. The third point presents a set of results of the surveys on the sensitivity of the Portuguese to a series of environmental problems. These subjective data – the perception of the people – are confronted with objective data of these environmental problems (to the extent that they exist). It is thus defined a daily scenario where people move to “two dimensions”: the “objective” (facts) and the “subjective” (opinions). In both, as we shall see, the “disqualification of urban life” emerges as something visible and felt. The fourth point reflects on the residential dissatisfaction expressed in a set of indicators – ranging from the elements of the housing envelope, to the manifestation of desires of a particular type of surroundings of the residence or change of place where one lives. Some of the reasons that justify that the change of place of residence outside the big urban centers and their peripheries do not occur, although it is so present in the “discourse of desire” of the respondents. Finally, some reflections and comments are developed that future.

Associated Publications:

Áreas Metropolitanas – Vivências, Mobilidade e Qualidade de Vida