[what]: competition by ie and arquideas. the purpose was to consider housing as an urgent and basic component of improving urban environments for the poor, and to propose viable housing alternatives. the location was to be decided by each team.
[where]: la cañada real, madrid, spain
[when]: december 2013
Formed by 16 kilometers of an old drover’s road, the Cañada is the biggest slum in Europe. Divided into six sectors, the Cañada is a big snake of tin houses settled on both sides of a dirt road riddled with holes. There are no public services in this area: the population has electricity thanks to the electric sockets used illegally, and most of the houses are inhabited by more people than they should.
The mail goal is the reactivation of the area and its integration in the urban scene, increasing the urban land by adding the basic infrastructure and facilities, in a way that future settlements are foreseen.
The Cañada Real is understood as a borderline with a particular potential: it is a mixed urban scene with the regularities of a linear city. Given this main condition, the idea of a system of community prototypes arises. The prototypes seek the expansion of the communities to the exterior, opening public spaces to the road in order to prevent the exclusion of each neighbor and the insecurity feeling that the empty streets provide.
As for the community, the center of the construction is a courtyard that provides areas that the neighbors will share and so a tight community will be created. There are also galleries in the lower and upper floors, in order to connect different dwellings, keeping in mind that these communities are in constant growth and mix of families.
Furthermore, housing is conceived as a mixed use: residential and productive. This way, the economy of the Cañada is reactivated, with appropriated and organised areas for this use (local stores and workshops at street level), which will help other inhabitants of the districts around to get closer to the “new” district.
Regarding the construction project and taking advantage of the fact that most of the neighbors are qualified workers in the construction field, each community is given the basic units (such as bathroom, kitchen, staircase), already built and in proper conditions. The rest of the construction, (such as façades, rooftops, and finishes) is built by the families, once they are taught the necessary techniques that involve simple recycling processes of materials that can easily be found in the surroundings of the Cañada Real.In this manner, the neighborhood becomes a catalogue of different solutions based on low-cost recycled construction materials. Each family decides the materials of their household, so the personality and identity of the Cañada remains untouched.