The “Gestual: Socio-Territorial and Local Action Study Group” was created informally in October 2007 at the beginning of a research project funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology entitled “Reconverting and re-integrating illegal urban areas: socio-urban evaluation and integrated strategic planning solutions”. The objective was to add to the synergies created by this research project by drawing on other previous or ongoing projects and work as a reference for a new approach to recovering heritage.
Two essential concepts underpin the work of Gestual: reflexivity between theory and practice and between research and action, and social space, in Henri Lefebvre's terms. Two fundamental rights are associated with these concepts: the right to housing and the right to the city. The themes for research and action reflect on what is to be done and how to do it, on the basis of two principles: the (re)qualification of the city and existing territories, involving particularly close consideration of peripheral areas, suburbs, margins and informal or illegal territories, and the involvement of local residents and citizens in making decisions about the place where they live. Gestual pays particular attention to Lusophone countries and cities but, in an increasingly global world, these are also cross-referenced with other areas.
Gestual brings together a group of people whose interests are reflected in these concepts, rights and principles and who are developing studies and measures from this perspective.