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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.104 Santiago abr. 2020 

Works & projects

Cañada Real Galiana Socio-community Center, Madrid, España

Santiago Cirugeda1 

1Recetas Urbanas, Sevilla, España.


In an illegal occupation, you cannot formally build anything. Yet, any intervention by the authorities in these areas depends on the organization of the population and the availability of a place to meet. Given this paradox, this Community Center is not only removable and mobile but was also built with the help of more than 1,200 volunteers from the community. Thus, architecture not only helps to formalize illegality but also to rebuild the social fabric.

Keywords: laws; building; management; community; Project

Source: ©Recetas Urbanas

Figure 1 

Facing the urgent need for an intervention in the Cañada Real, the largest informal settlement in Spain, the community and the municipality of Madrid come together and write a list of conditions for “the joint hiring of the supply, assembly and drafting of technical documents needed for the implementation of a non-permanent endowment structure.” The contest was declared void twice. We present ourselves to the third call, already known for another public project carried out in Madrid - although not yet legalized - with the experience and intention to involve and care for the largest number of direct or indirect users of the future social facility.

Figure 2 Plans first and second levels. 

The methodology begins by approaching the place’s educational centers, where the vast majority of children, neighbors of the Cañada Real, are found. We also visited all the families settled near the project’s location, house by house. Likewise, we identified and invited the social entities and neighborhood associations to participate, as well as the emerging organizations. Knowing that there were neighbors deprived of freedom (thus future users), we decided to collaborate with those in the Soto del Real prison where - like in other places - slabs, walls, trusses, roof panels and window frames are prefabricated, which were later used and assembled in the official building site. On this account, it is understandable for our construction signage to read: “Access allowed to any person alien to the building site.”

Source: © Recetas Urbanas

Figure 3 

Source: © Recetas Urbanas

Figure 4 

That the protocol of participatory construction of the socio-community center is made up of more than 1,200 people - including near 600 minors, 17 social entities, 1 penitentiary center, 3 universities, and many other volunteers - cannot leave the Recetas Urbanas team impassive. This is the first experiment with a new regulation of public-social co-management.

Source: © Juan Gabriel Pelegrina

Figure 5 

Source: © Juan Gabriel Pelegrina

Figure 6 

All the social clauses implemented by this methodology - that where not part of the original technical specifications - make this project much more surprising and risky. It is important to stress that the process has been accompanied by technicians from the different administrations involved, who have improved this initial lack in the project’s bases drafting, by collaborating and providing solutions with a perfect understanding of the morphological needs and changes of the project (as in the case of the increase of the built square meters and the involvement of users in the construction).

Figure 7 Sections 

The different actors have understood the need for a public-social co-management, through a shared and creative technical resolution on both sides. Finally, thanks to the impetus and the desire to participate, we procured two workshops of 45 m2 and one of 30 m2, a community space of 70 m2 as well as 90 m2 of self-sufficient offices and bathrooms, all without increasing the budget. Part of the success lies in the reuse of materials, including those from the municipal warehouses in Madrid.

Source: © Recetas Urbanas

Figure 8 

Source: © Recetas Urbanas

Figure 9 

Cañada Real Socio-community Center

Architects: Recetas Urbanas

Contributors: RH Estructuras, Ciudad Educativa Municipal Hipatia, Centro Penitenciario Soto del Real, ESDM (Escuela Superior de Diseño de Madrid), AECOM, Asociación La Luna, AMAL (Asociación de Mujeres Árabes Luchadoras), Centro de Artes Vivas - Naves Matadero

Location: Cañada Real Galiana, Carretera de Valdemingómez, 28031 Madrid, España

Client: Comunidad y Ayuntamiento de Madrid

Structural engineering:: Recetas Urbanas

Construction: Autoconstrucción liderada por Recetas Urbanas

Sanitary: Winter Summer Instalaciones SL

Electrical installation: Emilio Calderón, Rachid Abdeslami Ben Omar

Specialties: Aerogeneration SL, Winter Summer Instalaciones SL

Materials: refabricated self-supporting wooden walls and steel structure, building finishes of OSB board, fiber cement panels and vinyl flooring

Budget: 690 US$/ m2

Built area: 300 m2

Site area: 955 m2

Project year: 2018

Construction year: 2018-2019

Photography: Recetas Urbanas y Juan Gabriel Pelegrina

3D Visuals: David Blasco


Santiago Cirugeda. Architect, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Barcelona, España (2004). He began his professional career in the urban reality field by himself, tackling issues such as ephemeral architecture, recycling, reuse of materials, strategies for occupation and urban intervention, prostheses incorporation to constructed buildings or citizen participation. He is a founding member of Recetas Urbanas (2003). He received the Ojo Crítico, Iniciarte, Naider “Sociedad, Ciudad y Territorio” (2008) awards, as well as the International Fellowship of the RIBA, the FAD medal, the Global Award for Sustanaible Architecture (2015), the Ones Mediterrània (2016) and the Curry Stone Design Prize (2017 + 2018 to the Collective Architectures network).

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