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Urban analysis of Madrid, proposals for housing, cultural program and transportation for 3 urban parcels

From 2006 to 2007, the Now Institute acted as consultant and advisor to the City of Madrid in an investigation on the Spanish new town model. Five prototype communities were developed from three urban parcels, which were analyzed for opportunities to inject specificity, diversity and identity for future residents. Following the presentation of findings to the City, the final research was featured in an exhibition at the 2007 Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/ Architecture.

The city of Madrid currently hosts a housing program called PAU (Programa de Actuación Urbanística) or Programs of City-planning Performance that was designed to provide high-quality, affordable housing for an increasing population of young couples with financial challenges. The procurement system is through a lottery system and no choice of PAU or building is given; it is a random selection that currently requires a long wait.

The critique of the PAU system is multiple: The prescriptive parceling limits flexibility and integration with future commercial, civic and cultural programs that require different massing and siting. The low density negates the potential for high density development and exacerbates the horizontal growth of the city. The current strategy is indifferent and unresponsive to the local surrounding context and urban culture, thereby denying its ability to differentiate and iconize.

Three sites were recommended by the city for exploration and intervention. Each of the sites held a particular problem and urban responsibility which drove the design strategy and development. One site became a hub for increased efficiency in transportation. Another became an off-grid urban farm community, while the last proposed options for an alternative high-density residential lifestyle.