architect_ Arenas Basabe Palacios Arquitectos
collaborators_ Silvia Muñoz, Lucía Leva
location_ Plaza de España, Madrid
design year_ 2016
paisaje transversal_ Iñaki Romero, Jon Aguirre, Jorge Arévalo, Pilar Díaz, Guillermo Acero.
Hécate Ingeniería_ Miguel Álvarez, Samir Awad, Adrían Fernández.
Creando Redes_ Sandra Magro, Ana Méndez.

from the architects_The Plaza España presents a degradation process due to multiple negative factors: high levels of acoustic and air pollution, poor conservation status of both urbanisation and existing vegetation, architecture barriers, lack of connection to other public spaces, but, overall, because of its traffic knot condition at the
heart of the city of Madrid.

The aim of the competition is to generate ideas for the re-urbanisation of Plaza España and its surroundings. The projects should describe a new conception of the public space and the urban landscape, offer a reorganisation of mobility as well as propose new uses and activities and incorporate environmental and sustainable criteria. To that end, we create a multidisciplinary team in association with experts in citizenship participation (Paisaje Transversal), in mobility (Hécate Ingeniería) and in ecological restoration (Creando Redes). From the collaborative discussion and work emerged a plural proposal based on three main lines of action:

1. Mobility transformation, inside and outside the Plaza

2. Restoration of the green urban infrastructure

3. Generation of the tools that allow the interaction between citizens and space


The proposal aims to discourage the use of private vehicles in favour of public transportation. The public collective space gains predominance through the implementation of priority axes and the design of a single space for public transportation stops that will simplify the modal exchange with the subway and will allow its harmonization with the pedestrian and cycle uses.

In order to achieve these goals, the project blur the condition of the square as a gathering point and entry to the city for motor traffic. Turns are limited but the accesses needed to handle the surrounding uses (neighbours, services, hotels, etc.) are maintained and the harmful transit flows are transferred to the large ring roads of the city, designed for that purpose.


The actions carried out in Plaza España are a seed, the first step for a restoration of the green urban infrastructure of Madrid that will encourage the provision of goods and ecosystem services for the population, as well as the mitigation of the climate change effects.

The transformation of Plaza España in a node to encourage the connections of the green spaces of the city of Madrid are conceived from the re-naturalisation of this space through the ecological restoration of ecosystems.


From a further scale, the intervention in Plaza España is based on the increase in ecological connectivity
at a territorial scale, on the inversion of the mobility pyramid and, as a consequence, on the improvement
of the quality of the public space and living conditions–both in the Plaza itself and its surrounding- with
the aim of making it extendible to Madrid.

In a nearer scale, with the Plaza itself in mind, it is designed a sequential design system that pursuits the
following strategies:

a. The creation of a clean board –on one single height- using all the space remaining in-between
buildings where only the invariants appear; existent trees, Don Quixote statue, exits from the
underground parking, etc. Thus, it is achieved a more legible space and a clearer circulation
more accessible for everyone.

b. As an open plaza, a mix space is generated with the creation of a permeability gradient in which,
as if it were a magma, more and less solid pieces are intermixed in order to be adapted to the
different urban situations analysed.

c. It is proposed a matrix of uses that encompasses and assesses every necessary use, its
interrelationship and preponderance. Taking into account its conditionings and compatibilities, it
is planned a sharing solution, modified and agreed by the whole team.
Historically, the urban squares of Madrid had been gathering places for everyone; neighbours,
citizens and tourists. Because of this, the interventions attempt to recover meeting and resting zones
that have been turned into transit areas while, at the same time, give support to events of different

Thus, actions taken such as the reduction of urban barriers, the generation of more flexible itineraries to shorten distances at the micro scale, the elimination of architectural barriers posing difficulties to mobility, or the incorporation of urban facilities, are always accompanied by a qualification of the spaces that meets the citizenship demands with the aim of obtaining a more inclusive Plaza.

All in all, the aim of the proposal is to build a more friendly city by transforming the current urban model and encouraging a green infrastructure at the centre of which will appear a Plaza España as a meeting point between citizens and their parks.

A Plaza España for everyone who lives in Madrid and who lives Madrid, those who remember the
days when children played at the street and the urban squares were full of life and who want the same
thing for their kids.

Courtesy of the architects