Experimental social housing REVISITED | Urban Design workshop in San Blas, Madrid (2017)

Urban Design students of Saxion University of Applied Sciences are performing design research to compose an urban design proposal for Plaza Civica in the social housing area San Blas, Madrid. Solutions are based on the results on a study of experimental social housing in the ’50-’70s and are transformed into a contemporary intervention. From 3-8 November ’17 the Dutch students participate in a workshop on site in collaboration with Universidad Camilo José Cela, organized by URBEN and Saxion.

The Gran San Blas district at the east from Madrid’s center was one of the first (late ‘50s) in-one-time grand masterplanned social housing areas in Spain. It was ment as living area for the working class. Nowadays the residential quality is considered to be low. The public spaces are abandoned and deteriorated and are in need of improvement. Plaza Civica, as heart of the area, turned into a large vacant and dusty plot. Nonetheless, this site has potential as it could become the center from where the regeneration and rehabilitation of San Blas might start. An integrated program of civic uses, (social) housing and public space is part of the design task.

In order to understand the discourse of experimental social housing in the ‘50-‘70 the students study on international practices from these decades. Case studies on reference projects like Habitat ‘67 (Montreal, by M. Safdie), Dunboyne Road Estate (London, by N. Brown) and Siedlung Halen (Bern, by Atelier 5) help the students to acquire design instruments and principles that will be refigured and tweaked in order to apply them in a contemporary way, appropriate for current and future use.

Based on these case studies and an investigation on site the students will form a concept for a strategy and urban design proposal for Plaza Civica. The results will be presented in the beginning of January ‘18.

This educational semester project contributes to a more extensive ongoing research on experimental housing in the ’60/’70s.

Photo’s © 2017 URBEN/Ruben Ferwerda

Also to be found on: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/experimental-social-housing-revisited-urban-design-san-ruben-ferwerda