Citizen practices to consider the facilities of the future
Madrid has been shaped by general plans, historic monuments, grand architecture, and real estate bubbles. However, it has also been influenced by a hidden and gentle approach, with citizen initiatives playing a crucial role—the “B-side” of a city that has become a diverse project. Madrid is now transforming into LOS MADRILES, and numerous social, technological, and economic innovation practices show us the path to reinvent the city.
One such initiative is community urban gardens, where cultivating new social relationships results in intriguing green spaces. Many of these gardens surpass the capacity of local government, leading to a project for their legalization. The process is exemplary, with collaboration between government officials and garden participants. Shared management models empower citizens to decide how to utilize the city-provided infrastructure. Urban gardens prove to be valuable spaces for learning and “care.” Technical knowledge and social innovation go hand in hand, necessitating infrastructure that facilitates learning within these spaces.
According to Víctor Renes, director of the neighborhood association, “San Fermín is like a puzzle.” It is a pioneering neighborhood in citizen practices, located on the edge of the Manzanares River, where orchards were once common. They established the first urban garden school, and in its place, the city built LA CAJA MAGICA, the largest and most complexly managed sports center.
The Urban Garden School (Huerta Escuela) of San Fermín analyzes these situations to propose a step further. It is a hybrid project of citizen-administration management, reflected in its construction and design. It is an audacious space in permanent evolution, never inaugurated, conceived as both a structure and infrastructure for renovation projects in the neighborhood. Just as Robert Venturi advocated for “Learning from Las Vegas” in the 1970s, it is clear in 2016 that “Learning from CITIZENS” is an essential approach for architecture.