Urban Placemaking: RENAZCA Initiates Transformation Azca Financial District in Madrid
RENAZCA has selected a design team to lead the transformation of Madrid’s AZCA district, poised to foster the area’s urban, economic and social revitalization. The team was chosen after a two-stage competition as part of a larger initiative to reactivate public space with the support of the private sector.
“The process followed by RENAZCA has clearly illustrated that when the private sector, city administration, and academia come together, each in its own way, for place-making and urban transformation, the result is a huge win for Madrid,” says Martha Thorne, Dean of IE School of Architecture and Design.
The selected team will be led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Gustafson Porter + Bowman, and b720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos, in collaboration with consultants whose expertise includes landscape, sustainability, structure, lighting, and circulation modeling. The members of this multidisciplinary team have significant experience in creating innovative urban spaces locally in Spain and around the globe.
The team’s design vision responds to the site’s complexities as well as the unique opportunity to provide much-needed public space in the center of Madrid, welcoming all with diverse programming. Their design will continue to evolve in response to the input of local citizens, businesses, and other community stakeholders.
RENAZCA will set a new benchmark for the city of the future, emphasizing the role of accessibility, open space and sustainability. Pedestrians will be prioritized throughout the newly reconfigured public spaces. At the periphery of the block, vehicular access to underground roadways will be adapted with lushly planted trellis structures to reduce the visual impact of cars. Barrier-free access will replace myriad stairs and ramps found on the site today.
A new network of pedestrian routes and walkways align with key features within and beyond the site, while maintaining important access for emergency and safety services. The pedestrian network connects the site to its urban surroundings and nearby transportation networks, enfolding AZCA into the rest of the city.
In the heart of the district, a new topography with elevated edges forms the “Central Green”- a meadow flexible enough to accommodate a variety of outdoor events, ranging from a 200- to 10,000-person capacity. The Central Green will feature a pair of responsive environmental sculptures: “Permanent Sun” will reflect sunlight onto areas perpetually cast in shadow using an array of pivoting heliostats; while “Permanent Shadow” will provide a consistent area of reprieve from harsh sun, using a hovering 22-diameter disk.
RENAZCA will be a safe and welcoming public space for the entire city, activated with recreational and cultural activities, planned night and day, and across all seasons. The proposal incorporates 15 “Urban Rooms”. Each tailored according to their site conditions to host a unique landscape and program, such as a fresh produce market, children’s playground, open-air library, sculpture garden, cafes and bars, a productive garden, an outdoor co-working space, and perhaps a FabLab. All of this will expand AZCA’s reach beyond those who work and live here to draw all Madrilenians and visitors to this new destination.
RENAZCA will create a biodiverse urban ecosystem, featuring native plantings and a dynamic water feature that recalls old river channels that once crossed through the site. A rainwater catchment and storage system will irrigate the landscape and regulate a sustainably-designed water feature.
A two-stage selection process was implemented to choose the most appropriate multidisciplinary team and the winning proposal. Unique in Spain and in contrast to traditional architecture competitions where the focus is only on a final design, this invited competition sought to identify a multidisciplinary team, urban ideas, and strategies for the challenge at hand.
It involved the support of independent advisers and was planned and facilitated by members of the dean´s office of IE School of Architecture and Design through its Center for Sustainable Cities. Recognizing that architecture is a collaborative effort between the client, architects, and society, the winning team will work closely with stakeholders to develop the project and assure its success.
A new urban landmark
RENAZCA’s proposal marks a milestone in the conception and use of public space not only in the city of Madrid but also establishes an unprecedented series of innovative parameters at a broader level.
The collaboration of private companies in the improvement of public space with a project such as this, places RENAZCA and Madrid at the forefront, internationally, in their understanding of the nature and responsibility of place-making. The long-term commitment of RENAZCA to realize its contribution to “city-making” is unique among its peers.
RENAZCA S.A: is the union of some of the companies that own buildings in the AZCA area, which has come together with a common goal: the transformation and revitalization of an urban space that has deteriorated over the years, yet that can be improved and made into a point of reference for the city.
In short, to position AZCA in the heart of Madrid and minds of city residents with five guiding principles: coexistence, sustainability, integration, culture, and attractiveness. The participation of citizens, merchants, and other stakeholders of the area is also an important part of the initiative.
This project seeks the transformation of urban space to open it up to the city and make it “more livable” with a sustainable and connected environment. Madrid will be recognized as even more hospitable to citizens, visitors, existing companies, and future residents by increasing the quality space in the center of the city.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Gustafson Bowman + Porter and B720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos
Local Landscape Architect: Citerea S.L.
Structural Engineer: Valladares
Sustainability: Societat Organica
Quantity Surveyor: Dinmas
MEP: Hoare LEA, FSL
Space Modeling: Space Syntax
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