Esto no es un solar
"This is not a plot" (Zaragoza. Spain) is a project of cleaning, rehabilitation and maintenance of brownfield plots within the city, and the recovery of them to become open spaces to neighbors.
After many surveys focusing on the Old Town part of Zaragoza made from 2004, different serious problems in the configuration of the public space were detected. Many of them refer to the problem of having an "urban decent standard of living"; others were about non-built sites affecting not only the aesthetics of the urban landscape but also presenting very low health and sanitary conditions. After the process of registering the over 200 non-built sites in the Old Town, it was detected that there were mainly in the districts of "San Pablo" and "La Magdalena" where could be found the majority of them, highly depressed areas with a high degree of social conflicts. These abandoned areas that were progressively deteriorating and transferring its conflicts on the public space were studied. This absurd interruption of the urban fabric producing a process of degradation in the streets was infecting in an unmistakable way the public area and therefore the citizens living there. The situation mobilised several associations of residents asking the Municipal Government for a solution.
"Estonoesunsolar Programme" started as an employment plan in 2009. It was launched by Zaragoza City Council to clean up plots and neglected sites in the historic centre, and was targeted at long-term unemployed citizens. The team in charge of the project soon realized that the project had more to offer the city and citizens.
THIS IS NOT A PLOT is a project of cleaning, rehabilitation and maintenance of brownfield plots within the city and the recovery of the same to make them open spaces to neighbors.
This project will expand the public use area of the city on a temporary, flexible and dynamic way. With wide face and online citizen participation.
The project is divided into three phases:
- Presentation of the project for the plot to recover.
- Cleaning and rehabilitation of these plots
- Maintenance of space that includes cleaning graffiti and vandalism, keeping the useful space for public use.
The employment Plan, which was established with the goal of clean solar, has become in estonoesunsolar" program: creative, recycling urban voids with low cost activities and citizen participation.
- Promote social and urban innovation, incorporating sustainable
- Recovery of empty spaces in a state of degradation transforming them into temporary use of public spaces that provide solutions to the many demands and desires neighborhood.
- Addition to employment market of people who are unemployed and offer their experience to the program.
- Training and educational vocation, with the collaboration of various public schools and children's organizations.
- Desire to match different sensibilities to work in the same direction, through complex negotiations.
- Citizen involvement-represented by neighborhood associations, children's centers, schools and government agencies, under the leadership and support of the Municipal Board of the historic center of Zaragoza and management of Zaragoza Municipal Housing Society.
Working with local organizations, including schools and cultural centres, the city ensured the participation of local residents in the planning process. They received proposals that would give these empty spaces new urban uses. The project was relaunched but this time not just to clean, but to recover, rediscover and develop an urban and social experience.
With a clear didactic vocation, organized with public schools and children's associations in the city a series of workshops led by architects, in order to bring architecture to children aged between 5 and 12 years, involving them in thinking and construction of the city. Each group put forward a proposal to transform a plot in a public space. Children performed texts, drawings and models and proposed solutions to adapt a building site. Finally a jury selected the winning proposal, that "Estonoesunsolar" Team built with maximum consistency.
In addition to children, the general public has also performed proposals, promoting citizen involvement and participation in the project.
There have been children's play areas , giant ludo, a race tricycles , some urban gardens, a garden - carpet green , a forest, a basketball court, a volleyball court , a space for bowls, a space for tennis and a football pitch.
These "new spaces" dynamic and changing, allow an alternative reading of the city and public space. Each plot has an idea and it is a privileged place.
Outcomes: Three years later, there are 29 new dynamic spaces - each site contains an idea, a citizen's dream come true. A total of 42,000 m2 of land and urban gaps have been transformed into public spaces with the participation of nearly 60 organizations and associations in the city.
Responsible Entity: Zaragoza Vivienda
Contact: Mrs. Patrizia Di Monte. Architect Program Director
Category: Urban Planning, Employment and Economic Development, Social Cohesion
Innovation and Strategy
The innovations was on the methodology and the way of conceiving the project.
In 2009 they were selected in the Aragonese Institute of Employment ( INAEM ) 44 people standing ( two surveyors and other officers and construction laborers ) . In 2010 the Employment Plan, thanks to the overwhelming response, success and the national impact, doubles the amount (1,840,000 euros) allowing the hiring of 61 people across the INAEM . Due to the complexity of managing "estonoesunsolar" program, the Municipal Housing Company Zaragoza City Council requests the creation of a Technical Office "estonoesunsolar", the first in Spain, which conducts research and analysis of urban spaces, their possible recycling and transformation in public spaces through a public participation process.
In 2010 everything is channeled through the District Boards, summoning neighborhood associations, schools, parents associations, senior centers, children's centers, cultural associations, etc..
Several meetings take place until get unanimously for the proposed use and project to be built, all in very short time, as the program has recovered and processed 14 solar from July to December 2009, 9,800 m2, and 15 from June to December 2010, a total of 32,000 m2. So far, nearly 42,000 m2 of land and urban spaces have been transformed into public spaces with the participation of nearly 60 entities.
The actions taken in 2009 were concentrated in the historic center of Zaragoza, in the neighborhoods of San Pablo, La Magdalena and El Arrabal. It was the first intervention and had a special character because it was a pilot program and was the first contact with the city, which presented its proposals for new uses of plots.
Later some children's workshops, which were attended by 20 prestigious architects of Zaragoza, were made in the College of Architects of Zaragoza and the School of Architecture, under the direction of team "estonoesunsolar", which cared for the children in the process drawing their proposals and they trasmited basic tools of architecture to transform an empty space into a playful place, besides explaining the viability of their creations. Involved more than a hundred children between 5 and 12 years old. One proposal would be chosen to be built and serve as the culmination pedagogical project that had guided the workshops.
The winning project was executed, it is a space inspired by nature, chaired by a scenario in the form of four leaf clover. In the rest of the square, steel lampposts placed shaped like tree with lights and benches around them with forms of fallen leaves, made in wood.
The objective was the temporary occupation of non-built sites in the Old Town, both privats or publics, offering different temporary uses in order to reach a 100% use.
All these energies converged in the program "estonoesunsolar" that collected proposals from the architects, citizen associations, schools, old care centers .. channelled thanks to the institutional support of the Zaragoza City Council and being managed by Sociedad Municipal Zaragoza Vivienda. The suggestion of the emptiness, the hollow place, the invisible and the silence has been valued.
These temporary swellings of the fabric of the old town is a dynamic and changing (temporary) tool allowing us an alternative and flexible reading of the city and the public space. Empty spaces are trusted as a force for creating situations and events. Different agents and complex relations converge in every empty plot of land. This aspect has implied a mixing of complex and intricate agreements with owners. The program began in 2009 in 14 plots in the Old Town and then in 2010 was extended to the all city, recycling other 14 urban voids in public space.
Proposals for the future:
- Reaching every district of Zaragoza and even all rural districts with these performances, workshops and facilities, and to develop a mechanism to legalize temporary public use of abandoned plots.
- Develop a strategic plan for all urban empty spaces of the city of Zaragoza.
- Make this a program that can be exported to other cities, which serve as a model thanks to the experienced and guidelines.
Citizens, neighbourhood associations, parents associations, day care centers, cultural associations through the district government are invited to meetings to present their needs and desires. The program attempts to transform these ideas through a project that brings together all the proposals trying all desires exposed come true. Then are the citizens themselves with their participation and the use of these spaces, which make these sites useful.
Citizen involvement is present in all aspects of this program, since the design is fundamental contribution that the dwellers made to communicate their needs and concerns during development, being an employment plan that provides work people who are unemployed. Its ultimate use different sensibilities agrees and apparently contradictory.
Impact and evaluation
Two years after launching the program "estonoesunsolar", it can be affirmed that its objectives have been widely reached. The processes of citizen participation in the many targeted non-built sites have been "implemented", 28 empty plots and 42,000 m² of public space have been added to the city. Interventions in depressed areas has been the excuse to draw up strategies of social cohesion. The objective in all of these areas has been to revitalise the city with uses and parallel activities, planning these spaces as places for participation and exchange. On the other hand, the citizens have received these processes as if they belonged to them, producing an intensive implication in all the stages of the projects. This program has also served to activate an employment plan for people suffering a risk of social exclusion (110 new employment for unemployers). There have been many difficulties, from a very tight budget to those deriving from the intense and complex social and personal relations but all of them have served in the end to activate creative processes from complicity and hope.
All these ideas have finally crystallised in concrete interventions. Every non-built site contains an idea; every space is the wish of the residents before the "unreasonable silence of the world". All the proposals have emerged from processes of citizen participation. A bet has been made on "immaterial" ethereal solutions expressing the provisional character of its presence and establishing dialectics with the already built surroundings through lightness. Every one of the 28 interventions has been a meeting point for citizen' s requests and the landscape. An intervention has been made on the banks of a re-evaluated river serving as meeting point for children, youngsters and old people. Another intervention has been placed in a half-point between an Alzheimer centre and a centre for children. Work has been done using the concept of memories and the memory. Another action has been implemented in an edge point of the city, in its meeting point with the landscape through different urban orchards that melt with the surrounding landscape. This has been made in every non-built site strategically chosen. 42,000 m² of public (transitory) space has been added to the city, in collaboration with over 60 citizen associations.
The program takes place in July to December 2009, with 41 unemployed people, 14 plots and 9.800 m² transformed into public space. Thanks to enormous success of the program in 2009, the city Council decided to repeated the program in 2010 from June to December, with 61 unemployed people, 15 plots and 32.000 m² transformed into public space. 2011 we are in the third edition of the Program with a budget for this year of 2.000.000 euros, 70% of this budget goes to worker´ s salaries involved in the construction of these projects and 30% for the purchase of equipment and rental of equipment.
Following actions have been done: an urban garden, concealment of one of the medians by a large green carpet, urban gardening, green spaces with trees seconded by the City, a bowling green, a large "table" games with ludo and goose game giant painted on the floor as well as a number of traditional children's games or a race track for tricycles.
The proposals of 2010 had a different character as they worked with solar heterogeneous, with different geometries and dimensions, situated in other districts. However, it was considered essential to continue the same principles of priority based on citizen participation program.
The program has won 8 awards of different nature and origin such as 1st prize "Innovazione e Qualità Urbana", the second " Saie Selection 10 Award", the third "Smart Future Minds Awards", a reference to the research XI Biennial of Spanish Architecture and Urban Planning, finalist in the 2011 FAD Award, finalist Architecture Plus Awards, selected in the 6th European Biennial of Landscape and Winner of the International appeal of the Architectural Institute of the Netherlands (NAi) in Rotterdam.
This 2014 summer, the project will be part of several exhibitions such as the Biennale of Architecture in Santander, FAD Awards in Barcelona, Rome and Institute Cervantes "Temporary Garden" in Krakow.
One of the proposals for the future is to make this a program that can be exported to other cities, which serve as a model thanks to the experienced and guidelines.