Community-Based Problem Solving in Fuencarral-El Pardo

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From October 2015 to January 2016, Paisaje Transversal partnered with the District Council to  create diagnostics for Fuencarral-El Pardo, one Madrid’s largest and most populated districts. It is home to primarily middle-income residents, many of whom commute to the city center for work and rely on public transportation.

Applying PIAM, we assessed local demographics to locate greatest need and engaged participatory strategies to find out exactly what changes residents envision. Our diagnostics reveal significant geographic and economic disparity across the district—neighborhoods with mid-level vulnerability are located next to high income areas where resources are more readily accessible.

Virgen de Begoña, the site of our first neighborhood regeneration project, is one of the district’s most vulnerable communities. Similar to Arganzuela, Fuencarral-El Pardo is made up of old and new neighborhood that do not necessarily interrelate. With increasing dependency on economic opportunities in other districts, Fuencarral-El Pardo has not cultivated local commerce. There is potential for small business innovation and employment for young people. Additionally, creating engaging public spaces and cultural centers could activate a renewed sense of community and collective identity.

Alongside quantitative data, we took into account qualitative feedback from community members in order to form a district-wide plan. In Fuencarral-El Pardo, we collected public perceptions through a series of participatory initiatives. We held eight walks through the district, involving residents in the planning process. This generated an open dialogue and offered insight into the lives of Fuencarral-El Pardo residents.

In addition to our participatory tours of the districts, we hosted an event where residents could rank proposed improvements to public space, transportation and infrastructure, economic activity, social dynamics and public services, and housing, in order of importance to them. This allowed for community perceptions to be translated into numerical indicators that can guide regeneration in the Fuencarral-El Pardo district. The following were selected as top priorities:

  • Handicap accessibility in old neighborhoods and metro
  • Improve bus services between old and new neighborhoods
  • Mediation between tenants and property owners
  • Make public cultural centers more accessible and inclusive
  • Strengthen district identity through cultural activities
  • Resources for public recreation that appeals to all ages
  • Improve existing health services, reopen center for specialized care

Many of the joys and challenges of urban living are encountered while on foot. For this reason, walking tours seem to be a particularly effective method for surveying a city and engaging people in the process. Neighborhood mapping is transformed into an active and communal experience that mimics everyday life. In addition, Paisaje Transversal incorporated a ranking system to create more concrete proposals. Combining these participatory strategies has revealed a more complete picture of local issues in Fuencarral-El Pardo.

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