Picoas Square and the Fontes Pereira de Melo Avenue make part of Avenidas Novas, the 19th-century expansion of Lisbon on the north side. The plan for these ‘new avenues’ appropriated principles and techniques of the progressive urbanism of which the Parisian boulevards were the referential figure, although the urban plan did not have the correspondence in the architectural quality of the buildings. The continued extension of Lisbon during the twentieth century gave the Fontes Pereira de Melo Avenue major importance, establishing it as the main road connection between the lower and the higher areas of the city, including the airport. The area became a blend of different times and cars had conquered the public space.
An urban requalification programme was implemented by the municipality aiming to create new public spaces developing micro centralities and soft modes of locomotion. The preference for the soft mobility against the car allowed the renaissance of the boulevard’s concept that once characterized this avenue. Through the creation of continuous, safe and direct routes, the project intended to create a network of qualified public spaces that articulate the Picoas Square with the surrounding gardens and squares. Considering that the existing avenue is narrow to accommodate all the stated flows freely, the proposal seeks a compromise solution that proposes a new spatial hierarchy where pedestrians, cyclists and public transport gain a preponderance over individual motorized transportation.
Along the Fontes Pereira de Melo Avenue, the goal was to improve conditions of circulation and livability. The sidewalks were extended to areas previously used for car parking. The unidirectional bicycle paths were introduced, next to the road, as well as a strip for trees, urban furniture and equipment, leaving the sidewalk free of obstacles. The resizing of lanes permitted the creation of a central reservation, with an alignment of trees planted to define the axis of the avenue. In Picoas, the largest public space in the area, was created a hybrid space made of small leisure and garden areas, linking the access to the different modes of public transport— metro, bus and bike-sharing — and creating space for kiosks and other urban equipment. These connecting spaces define a new pedestrian path between the square, the nearby garden — flanked by a school and a municipal market — and the adjacent streets.