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Participatory Management of Cañada Real Habitat. | Civic Europe
Community development, Participatory urban planning

Participatory Management of Cañada Real Habitat.

Neighbourhood governance for the urban development of the peripheries.


Who is behind this?

Vicenzo Maiello

NGO Arquitectura Sin Fronteras España


Who is joining forces?

Asociación Vecinal Alshorok (Alshorok Neighbourhood Association)


Asociación de Vecinos Cañada Real de Merinas (Sectores 2 y 3) (Cañada Real Neighbourhood Association, sectors 2 & 3)


Asociación de Vecinos de la Cañada Real Galiana de Madrid (Sector 4) (Cañada Real Galiana Neighbourhood Association, Sector 4)


We have agreed with these neighbourhood associations of Cañada Real the use of their communal spaces, as it was previously done, in which to do the participatory activities described in this project.


Idea pitch

The project aims to ensure a decent habitat through neighbourhood participation in the decision-making about the future of the largest informal neighbourhood in Western Europe. For this, a joint work is proposed between social entities, authorities, technical personnel and neighbourhood, knowledgeable of the territory and its dynamics, developing technical proposals in urban planning that lay out innovative solutions to the problems derived from the situation of informality.

Where will your project idea take place?

Cañada Real Galiana’s informal neighbourhood, southeast periphery of the city center of Madrid,Spain

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

More than 7000 people live in this 14 km linear settlement, without access to formal basic services or to the legal security of tenure to their homes. Since the 1950s, its population has been affected by a violation of human rights due to the lack of involvement of the authorities who were responsible for dignifying the territory.
The social challenge here is to search for technical solutions in a participatory way to regularize the neighbourhood. These solutions aim to give an opportunity to the coexistence of different realities, listening to and integrating all voices, in order to contribute to the defense of the right to habitat, to housing and to the city, and to contribute as well to the destigmatization of an invisibilized territory.

Who are you doing it for?

In the Cañada Real a lot of diverse realities and cultures coexist. In its 14 km, neighbourhood associations (N.A.) have emerged, such as the Alshorok N.A. or the Cañada Real de Merinas N.A., around which the neighbourhood has been grouped to fight against forced evictions, so as to defend their rights and to get organised for the self-construction of the neighbourhood infrastructure. There are also cultural associations created by minority groups, such as migrant women, in which they reinforce their networks and get united to demand an adequate environment and convenient services.
Seeking that all voices are present and understanding the existing power relations, specific sessions will be held in order to create trustworthy groups that ensure the real participation of all people.

How do you plan to get there?

We have agreed with the N.A. to provide direct attention through the office 3 days a week during 1 year. We will solve doubts about architectural/urban aspects and provide technical solutions to the problems arising.At least 6 training sessions will be held with the population about those key aspects to understand the possibilities of consolidating their homes and neighbourhood.
We will develop a participatory urban plan together with the community through monthly meetings, where the process of planning will be discussed. In addition, extraordinary meetings will be set up with the most vulnerable groups to ensure their participation.
Subsequently, we will take their proposals to the monthly meetings with the authorities to integrate their vision and rights in the decision-making process

What are the expected results?

For there to be a true culture of participation, all the people need to have the same access to information so as to be in the decision-making process. The technical personnel often uses a very specific language that is not understandable for the ordinary people. Therefore, even if the message is spoken, the content doesn’t get to the community.
In this line of work, we encourage the community to have an understanding on technical legal and urbanistic aspects that affects to the legalization of the neighbourhood. We will facilitate participatory spaces in Cañada through the technical office, so as to elaborate a joint urbanistic proposal together with the community, the authorities and their technical staff, aiming to take the diversity of socioeconomic realities into account.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The knowledge that the community has about its habitat due to its everyday experience must be a starting point for any intervention within the territory. Our technical work showcases all that knowledge and transfers it to the urban proposals that are developed collectively in a process of mutual learning.
To promote the autonomy and empowerment of the population in the defense of their rights, training actions in urban planning are being developed. In this way, we want to make the participation of residents accessible and real in the process of decision-making related to housing, urban planning and the city, by favoring the dialogue and understanding between the community and the authorities in the search for solutions for the future of the settlement.

Why is this idea important to you?

The mission of Arquitectura Sin Fronteras is the defense of human rights through universal access to decent housing to achieve social transformation. We are in Madrid, where the Cañada Real is located, and we are the only NGO with a technical vision related to housing and urban planning that currently works there, so we consider that we must be involved in the solution from a human rights and social justice perspective.
We have been working in the territory for more than 10 years with the population, defending together a decent habitat for all people. This moment is an opportunity to work in a solution truly participatory, without leaving behind any social group and with more intense technical work accessible to all population.

€ 50000,-

Total budget

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Technical personnel recruited: 40.000 €
Supporting material for neighbourhood meetings: 2.000 €
Office expenses: 2.000 €
Transport expenses: 1000 €
Indirect costs: 5.000 €

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to know about other experiences that are taking place today in other parts of the world, related to the right to housing, habitat and city on a participatory basis. Nevertheless, any advice is welcome.



Idea created on May 24, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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