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Traveling Seminar Madrid “And the squares were already taken”

Daniel Lobo - La playa de Madrid (Madrid Beach)

 source: Wikipedia

“Toma la plaza” (Take the Square) was one of the sentences heard mostly among young people in the center of Madrid throughout 2012. Spain was already in the middle of the financial depression of 2009 and in Madrid there was visible manifestation of how economic crisis shocked the established political system and social values. The sentence “Toma la plaza” was a symbol for a whole generation who had already achieved new ways of collaboration and was asking the institutions to follow their paradigm. This led to the consolidation of an extensive net of cultural and local initiatives all around the city. These new ways of citymaking together with the big urban interventions accomplished by all different administrations since the beginning of the century made Madrid a colorful and rich field of creativity and cutting-edge city experiments.

Already few years have passed since “Toma la plaza” movement and the city of Madrid is still a place of contradictions, a labyrinth of creative experiments very difficult to grasp if you are not connected to the inhabitants of the city. 

Map of Madrid Initiatives 2016 (Auszug)


This action research field trip is going to explore, from the hand of some Madrileños, this wide range of urban experiments, such as the big urbanistic and cultural interventions, very criticized in the beginning of the century but currently an untouchable symbol of the city of Madrid (Madrid Rio, Matadero Madrid or the Eje de los Museos). But alsol the very small, self-made initiatives that conform the daily life of any Madrileño (Red de Huertos Urbanos, Mercados, Almendro 3, Tabacalera, La ingobernable, Esto es una plaza, Espacio Ucrania, etc.), all of them developed from a huge network of creative agents, sometimes in collaboration with the administration of Madrid during the recent years.

During 5 days in the city, the students are going to develop different learning activities, thinking and designing proposals about the places we are going to visit. The daily routine will be split into two parts. During the morning we will be hosted in different places and initiatives by citymakers related to each place, who will propose ad-hoc projectual exercises for the students. After lunch we will be joining the teachers and students of MACA Master of Madrid ETSAM who prepared some alternative routes as the starting point of the Masters program. We aim to create a common ground to generate different spatial and programmatic experiences together in groups.

This seminar will provide the students with alternative collaborative project methodologies and tools to approach new working contexts, by introducing new spatial and citymaking practices.