Ensuring the availability of decent housing for all is an aspiration that largely depends on another closely linked global goal: the creation of truly habitable environments. Within this context, we cannot ignore the urban debate around the issue of housing or how we believe growth and the cities of the future should be. For this reason, initiatives such as the UIA Madrid International Forum 2022 are fundamental if we wish to grow through collective reflection.
By taking part in the AHA Congress, we seek to contribute to this process of collective reflection with some of the key elements that allow urban design to be part of the solution to the housing problem; elements that have been incorporated into the design of Madrid Nuevo Norte, the area of major new urban development in the city. Key features that are rooted in the model of urban expansion itself, regenerating unused plots of land in the heart of the city of Madrid. They also feed into the model of a dense, compact, mixed-use city that is hyper-connected, walkable, and cyclable, with a view to generating a habited environment in which urban life takes centre stage. An environment designed so as to emphasise public space for the enjoyment of all, regardless of gender, age, or disability. A resilient environment that focuses on decarbonisation and the responsible consumption of resources.
The proposed model for Madrid Nuevo Norte, rooted in a profound process of citizen participation and public–private partnership, will provide the city with 10,500 homes, applying ground-breaking aspects such as compulsory property transfers to Madrid City Council, to be used entirely for residential purposes, providing the Council with almost 4,000 homes (38% of the total) to develop public policies on affordable housing, encompassing different levels of protection, and offering rent controlled properties within freehold plots of land. These features offer great potential to integrate emerging housing trends.
The synergy between residential and tertiary uses with a view to creating a living urban environment that in turn generates sustainable economic activity in the Madrid Nuevo Norte CBD, is another hallmark of this project, which seeks to draw talented professionals to urban environments – where access to affordable housing is key – and ensure the sustained creation of employment over the years, while giving a greater role to local businesses.
Over the next few decades, cities will face major social, environmental, and economic challenges, and their capacity to tackle and successfully overcome these will largely depend on the approach taken now, through the design of spaces inhabited by society.
Madrid Nuevo Norte represents an opportunity to deliver an optimal response to these challenges, designing a compact, mixed-use city model, which will allow people to work and access services without needing to commute great distances. All within an environment designed to save on millions of journeys and reduce their carbon footprint, with an extensive public transport network and roads designed for pedestrians, large public spaces, and a vast network of bike lanes.
All without losing sight of the smart city concept, capable of incorporating innovation and technology coherently, with a view to improving the lives of citizens, because the creation of a smart district in Madrid Nuevo Norte seeks to exploit the true potential of a digital city: putting people at the heart of decision-making processes, improving their quality of life, and ensuring greater environmental and social efficiency.
Madrid Nuevo Norte takes the UN 2030 Agenda as a guide to implement all its social, environmental, and economic sustainability actions. The project tackles all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out in the Agenda, providing proposals at all points in the international roadmap, which can be applied within the scope of this project.
To do this, the project combines respect for existing environmental values in the area with an intense programme to introduce nature into public and private spaces. Furthermore, aspects such as energy, water management, and the circular economy are the foundational pillars that support the sustainable city, which is why Madrid Nuevo Norte has integrated ground-breaking initiatives in all these aspects in its design, with a view to reducing environmental, economic, and social imbalances, making the most of the blank canvas that comes with designing a brand new section of the city.
Madrid Nuevo Norte socio-economic impact
Madrid Nuevo Norte Project Brochure