Contemporary Urbanizations in Public Water Reservoirs: Floating Villages of Alqueva Reservoir

Contemporary Urbanizations in Public Water Reservoirs: Floating Villages of Alqueva Reservoir

Hélder Caeiro Amador (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4186-8.ch010
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The most important tourism projects since 2005 in Portugal, privately owned and with European funds, were integrated resorts, mostly located in public water reservoirs, as a result of urban policies to encourage the human occupation of the most interior desertified areas. The Alqueva reservoir, although with no visible results, is an emerging paradigm of urban expansion planned for tourism in these areas. This chapter intends to show the importance of the tourism reservoirs, lost with the economic recession, through an analysis of its territorial management tools and a re-focus on innovative urban regeneration and expansion models, using water as a central element of its development.
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The research problematic focus on the emergent urban and tourist development, verified in the surrounding of reservoirs, emphasizing the time interval between the year of 2002, until the present time in Portugal. The investigation after a more general approach of the subject focuses on the Alqueva reservoir, as the object of study. Emerging tourism developments in the last ten years in the reservoir area in Portugal were born mainly from the rules established in the various Water Supply Management Plans (POAAP). These establish zones of tourist vocation, in a paradigm of urban expansion, regarding a planning process, that formalized an urban model based on the integrated resort from 2007.

The National Strategic Plan for Tourism (PENT) defined this model as the lever for sustainable development, and that contributed to the environmental valuation of the territories. This public policy instrument defined the reservoirs and their surroundings as privileged spaces for the implantation of tourism infrastructures with a strong golf component, in response to the increase of human desertification and the degradation of the socioeconomic conditions of the interior of Portugal (Martins, 2011).

The research analyzed eight reservoirs in Portugal (Monte da Rocha, Alvito, Alqueva, Vigia, Montargil, Abrantes, Castelo de Bode, and Aguieira) and one in Spain (Valdecañas), in a total of 22 tourist projects (Figure 1) that showed two different approaches to a more recent urban regeneration approach. This coincides with the revision of the Urbanism Basis Law dated 2014, and with an urban expansion approach that has been in place since 2007 - with the implementation of the PENT. It was addressed for the first time in Portugal the need to implement integrated resorts in the areas surrounding the public water reservoirs, extended until 2012 as a preferential urban and tourist model.

Figure 1.

Localization of case studies - Portugal and Spain

Source: GOOGLE. Google Earth Pro. (2017) Portugal and Spain. Image Landsat / Copernicus. 2017

Nowadays, these approaches to urban expansion have difficulty imposing themselves as a model of sustainable development, as would be the initial objective, due to the economic conjuncture, to a new paradigm of urban development, that in this context do not find in the public administration the acceptance previously possessed. Although public authorities also support the justification of these urban expansion approaches, recognizing that the planning processes and the rules established at that time were used, taking advantage of investors and investments that focused on the opportunity created through urban policies. They also acknowledge that most of the detail plans at the project stage will not be implemented, either for funding reasons or because of the real estate crisis. Also, for a change in the developers’ investment strategy, they currently seek a reassessment of these plans, having in view the realization of new strategies, with projects smaller in scale, because they also understand that there is a different paradigm today that calls into question the tourism zoning of the various touristic plans.

The results question not so much the conclusions of the detail plans, which are evident, but their process. In the areas surrounding the reservoirs, the traditional planning process was always dependent on public strategies, involving national and regional policies. These factors are outside the territory (such as markets, global trends, and territorial marketing), which had tourism as its ultimate goal and depended heavily on the private sector for its dynamism, exploitation, and execution.

Emerging urbanizations in reservoirs have lived a lot of territorial diagnoses, made through strategic documents focused on very concrete objectives of “selling” in the first phase the need for intervention of the territory, which presupposed the accomplishment of several instruments of analysis of the territory that provided the basis for the intervention. Almost all of these public or private studies, according to the promoter, came to a common result, proposed as more viable in a context of a crisis. This was characterized as a model of expansion that would provide, in a vision of the future, a regional and local prosperity where the Europeans funds would be the engine of this development (Amador, 2016).

Key Terms in this Chapter

POAAP: The public water Albufeira town planning plans are special territorial planning plans that establish adequate measures for the protection and valorization of water resources in the area to which they apply to ensure their sustainable use, linking public administration and individuals.

Detail Plans: The detail plan develops and concretizes the proposals for occupancy in any area of the municipal territory in detail, establishing rules on the implementation of infrastructures and the design of spaces for collective use, deployment, volumetry, and rules for edification, as well as disciplining its integration into the landscape, the location and urban insertion of collective use equipment, and the spatial organization of other activities of general interest.

Floating Urbanism: Floating urbanism is an emerging process that reflects a need and tendency to produce urban space in the water plane. Like traditional urbanism, it assumes itself as a multidisciplinary discourse that involves several disciplines of knowledge. AU24: Reference appears to be out of alphabetical order. Please check

Basic Law of the Territorial Planning and Urbanization Policy: It is the law that establishes the general bases of the public policy of soils, of land planning, and urbanism.

PIN: Projects of potential national interest are all projects which represent an equal to or greater than EUR 25 million, create at least 50 direct jobs and be presented by promoters of recognized standing and credibility. Thus, they are subject to a special regime that facilitates their implementation in the territory, supported by a system of exceptions on environmental and spatial planning.

Reservoir: A reservoir is a lake of artificial origin, usually designed to store water in a dry region, to ensure the development of life in an environment, or for the construction of a dam or a hydroelectric dam, covering the coastal areas on the banks of a river.

Republic Diary: The diário da república is a public service where normative and judicial acts are published, acts of an administrative nature, judicial acts and contracts governed by public law and private or cooperative law.

Municipal Director Plans: These are plans that establish the municipal territorial development strategy, the municipal territorial model, the options for locating and managing equipment for collective use and the relations of interdependence with neighboring municipalities.

PENT: The national strategic plan for tourism, defines the strategic guidelines for tourism policy, with goals and objectives, to create the conditions that allow the contribute decisively to the image of the country and the well-being of the Portuguese population, through the generation of wealth, the creation of the promotion of territorial cohesion.

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