We recently came across this interesting project in Madrid linked to the ‘right to the city’. Like Dublin, the Spanish capital was overwhelmed by a speculative storm of property construction from the mid-1990s to the financial crisis. But it has also played host to a variety of new social movements seeking to reclaim the city. Most famously, the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca fights against the eviction of mortgage holders and occupies abandoned housing held by bailed out banks. EVA, the project described below, is more about social space though. Given the wide variety of initiatives and debates in Dublin in recent years around reclaiming public and social space, from Granby Park to the recent Grangegorman squat, Espacio Vecinal de Arganzuela (EVA, Arganzuela Community Space), is an interesting example of how such projects are happening in other, similar contexts.
You can read more about the project here.
The project focuses on a disused market building, on the outskirts of central Madrid.While it has been abandoned for many years, the building remains an attractive space for potential property speculation. Like Dublin, property prices have plummeted over recent years and, due to the current low cost of real estate, a building frenzy is bubbling up once more, with international vulture funds taking a particular interest in the heavily discounted assets available. EVA wants to take over the space and turn it into a centre for recreation and culture and a market, all framed within a peer-2-peer ethos. The project also wants to protect the buildings important architectural heritage.
While the campaign is ongoing, they have set up an informal community garden on the site as a symbol of community ownership of the space. Next time your in Madrid drop in and check it out (you can contact the project here: firstname.lastname@example.org).