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Michael Cohen: Housing as Housing: The SAAL Process and Sao Victor Brigade

Following the 1974 Carnation Revolution, which ended almost 50 years of Fascism, the Portuguese working class people demonstrated an unprecedented display of popular power, demanding new rights and services. SAAL (The Local Ambulatory Support Service) was established to address the demand for affordable and quality housing in Portugal. Envisioned as a process rather than an organization, SAAL created small-scale brigades that worked directly with a neighbourhood to establish the scale, program and design of their housing. This participatory process, which was embedded in the praxis of urban life, re--‐defined the discipline of architecture, while preserving the expertise of the architect. Consequently, the architecture produced through the SAAL process is highly robust and specific. Through a  close reading of the Sao Victor Project, envisioned by the Brigade led by Alvaro Siza, I aim to evaluate how the form of the housing projects index the political and collective aspirations of the popular movement.