Este era o único objectivo que faltava cumprir do Plano para a Reconstrução da Área Sinistrada, que foi coordenado pelo arquitecto a partir de 1991, depois de as chamas terem consumido aquela área nobre da cidade de Lisboa.
Foi essa mesma desertificação «uma das razões para que o incêndio do Chiado tenha atingido aquelas proporções», recordou o arquitecto que não tenciona repetir esta experiência de intervir numa zona afectada por uma catástrofe semelhante.
Bairro Alto is a picturesque working class quarter dating from the 16th century that has traditionally been the city's bohemian haunt of artists and writers.
Its grid of streets is quiet during the day, but is transformed at night into the city's vibrant nightlife quarter. Behind colorful and graffiti-ridden façades is a variety of excellent traditional and international restaurants, tourist-packed Fado Houses, and a multitude of sleek bars and stylish alternative fashion shops that stay open until late at night. Throughout the week, and especially on weekends you'll find people of all ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles bar-hopping through the cobbled lanes or standing outside with a drink in hand enjoying the city's usual mild nights.
The main commercial streets are Rua do Norte, Rua da Atalaia, and Rua do Diário de Noticias, from where it is easy to reach Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara (a garden-terrace with a panoramic view over the city), and two of the city's most interesting churches: São Roque with its magnificent baroque interior and the romantic Gothic ruins of Carmo Church.
Neighboring Chiado is an elegant, sophisticated district of theaters, bookshops, old-style cafes, art nouveau jewelry shops and luxurious international names such as Hermes and Cartier.
All of this makes it one of the most prestigious areas in the world according to a worldwide study conducted by an international company in 2005, ranking it ninth right after well-known places like 5th Avenue in New York, Oxford Street in London, and the Champs Elysees in Paris. Although it may lack much of the glitz of those famous streets, it scored points for charm and the quality of customer service in its businesses.
You may evaluate it yourself by going into the opulently gilded Tavares Rico Restaurant opened in 1784, by taking a look at the fine porcelain of the Vista Alegre shop, or checking out the boutique of Ana Salazar, one of Portugal's international fashion designers that also has collections of interior design and accessories.
Much of the area was destroyed in a fire in 1988, but has since been reborn. It remains one of Lisbon's most beloved districts, with reminders of its past as the center of the city's intellectual life, with statues of literary figures such as Fernando Pessoa, Luis de Camões, and Eça de Queiroz.
Up the hill is Principe Real, an area known for its antique and interior design shops on Rua Dom Pedro V and Rua da Escola Politecnica, and also for being the city's gay quarter with a number of gay bars and clubs. In the streets from the Principe Real Garden down to the riverfront, especially in Rua de São Marçal, are attractive 19th century townhouses and some of the most tranquil spots in the city, such as the leafy Praça das Flores.
To the west is the district of Estrela, dominated by a huge domed basilica. It is not too far from the country's parliament, the neoclassical São Bento Palace, and connects to the west to opulent Lapa, the diplomatic quarter with grand embassy buildings and old mansions. It is also the site of the Ancient Art Museum, one of the city's top attractions.