Gran San Blas Sur

Madrid, Spain

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Winning team: The Barrio Catalysts
Team members:
Akshay Saxena, Chandrakanth Karuppiah, Diana Gering, Fabian Salemon, Maria Camila Zuluaga Jaramillo, Nadine Schröder, Prachi Sawant, Sarah Anne-Marie Kuhlmann, Shashwat Shubham, Yamini Kandapal - TU Darmstadt
Jennifer Oriwol - TU Dortmund

The strategy's different focus points are all interconnected and include: mobility, community, urban green spaces, energy efficient buildings and security. The Barrio Catalysts adopts a sustainable and holistic approach for the area of the Gran Blas Sur in which the development takes place from the inside out.

One of the goals is to implement a multifunctional, human scale design whilst at the same time targeting the revitalisation of commercial ground floor usage and the urban voids. The team also engages and encourages the community to take possession of the transformation process by creating public central spaces, designated for community exchange, participation and transformative action. 

The project also aims at reducing individual car ownership and reclaiming street spaces for social activities, leisure and economic revitalisation. Wide greening interventions are proposed to mitigate some effects of climate change as heat islands.

Key components

  • TOD and last mile approaches and a safe bike and pedestrian infrastructure, encouraging car & bike sharing. Create inner-block car-free zones which require a well-connected public transport system.

  • Improvement of the building envelope to increase energy efficiency, exchange of heating devices and other technical equipment, solar thermal energy and green roofs. The aim is to reduce overall energy consumption of the buildings in the neighborhood by 80%.

  • Development of green corridors and walls, roof gardens, spaces for community agriculture as well as bio-swales and rain gardens.

  • Small-scale manufacturing opportunities for neighbourhood revitalization & growth of the local business sector. 

  • Opening of public facilities and services to improve playgrounds and sports.

Learn more about the project in the project presentation.

Presentation of the site

The proposed area consists of two urban plots that are part of the Gran San Blas neighbourhood, in the southeast of Madrid close to the M40 ring road and the R3 radial highway. The site was originally developed in the 1970s as a residential area supported by some commercial activities and social infrastructure. This type of development is very common in Madrid’s suburban areas, developed during the 60s, 70s and 80s of the last century.

Today, these suburban areas present similar problems. The space functionality has changed: many of the commercial retail outlets have been converted to residential units and the area is dominated by large sites hosting public infrastructure (e.g. schools, toilets). Some of the facilities have been abandoned, bordered up and degraded – generating the perception of an unsafe environment. Alongside this, the inter-block spaces between residential units, originally designed as places for meeting and social unity present deterioration, enhancing the perception of insecurity.

This competition aims to provide an opportunity for students to investigate possible solutions to resolve these issues, common to many of the residential suburban areas throughout Madrid. For this competition, students should focus on developing solutions for the sites in Gran Blas Neighbourhood. However, interventions should be considered and designed in a way that they could be implemented in other similar areas.

Approx. site area

19 hectares. 5 hectares correspond to the infrastructure category (schools, toilets, etc.), 9000 square meters to sports and 1 hectare to green areas.


The area has 4905 inhabitants with hardly any growth in the last 5 years. Average age is 45. 12% of single-person households are made up of a single woman over the age of 65. Unemployment rates are almost double the city average. The percentage of immigrant population (12%) is below the city average.

Special Mention


Team members: 

Celia Espadas Alonso-Barajas, Ezba Teresa Eroles Robles, Andrea Mañas Ruiz, Esther Martín Paule, Laura Martín Sánchez, Alejandra Parras Delgado, Juan Verdaguer Aguerrebehere - Universidad de Castilla-la Mancha (UCLM)

Victor Eduardo Flores Medina, Tatiana Belén García Mogollón, Raul Jesús Santos Rufino, José Manuel Serrano Cívico - Universidad National de Piura 

Camilla Zampiello - Universidad de Napoles Federico II 

TEDxCountdown talk of the winning team!

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Jury Composition

Mar Moralejo Marino, Arquitecta. Subdirectora General de Renovación y Proyecto de Ciudad Dirección General de Planificación Estratégica
Iván Velasco Romera, Geógrafo. Investigador y Profesor del Departamento de Ciencias Políticas y de la Administración_ Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Costanza De Stefani, Reinventing Cities Project Officer C40
Marta Colas, City Business leader Arup
Petra Axdorff, CEO and CSO IKEA Spain
Manuel Márquez Pérez, Arquitecto. Asesor Dirección General Planificación Estratégica Responsable del Plan Especial de Incremento y Mejora de las Redes Públicas
Emilio Martínez Vidal, Arquitecto, Asesor Dirección General Planificación Estratégica
José María Rodríguez García, Economista. Dirección General de Planificación Estratégica

If you have a question or would like more details on the site and the Students Reinventing Cities competition, please use the form below. You will receive a response via email.

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