COST Action TU1201 Urban Allotment Gardens in European Cities - Future, Challenges and Lessons Learned

Portugal has a relatively recent tradition in designing such areas and the first ideas around the concept of urban allotment garden – “Horta Urbana”- dates back to the 1980’s, and became more popular in the Region of Lisbon. Inspired by the examples of Northern European countries the allotment garden began to gain new converts in Portugal and currently it assumes different purposes all over the country, from North to South. Initially started as a way to spend leisure time, especially for people who moved in from countryside to the cities, nowadays, AG meets a range of different uses. Local councils now look to AG as a way to promote green spaces and urban regeneration, as well as educational and pedagogical projects. In addition, AGs support a way of producing food for self-consumption and thus accomplishing more social objectives, to help alleviate/relief the economic crisis we are experiencing. Furthermore, in documentary reports, participants highlight the importance of these spaces to their quality of life and well-being. Other initiatives involve a dynamic creation of green spaces, by promoting contact with nature and healthy habits to reduce waste, encourage good agricultural practices, organic farming, and efforts to create a balanced ecosystem.

As AGs are a relatively recent phenomenon in Portugal, the research led by CITAB and the Department of Forest Sciences and Landscape Architecture at UTAD intends to explore the concept of the Portuguese urban allotment garden, its evolution, and its place in the framework urban planning policy. It is intended, during the first stage of the project, to make a survey of existing AGs in Portugal, followed by the definition of typologies in terms of context, form, function, and intensity of use.

To progress our understanding about this subject, we will then focus on case studies based on the different obtained typologies to analyse in depth the impact of those to the urban morphology and urban green infrastructure, the structure and elements of the allotment, type of users and overall management as well as its impact on promoting active lifestyles.

Using the experience of Portugal it is also a goal to provide a contribution to the overall understanding of the European allotment garden.

Project Details


COST Action TU1201



Start date

September 2012


62 months


Responsible institution

University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro