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“We must reclaim the city for the citizen.”

Our CEO, José Luis Bescansa, recently participated in a round table on “Ciudad Inteligente. Ciudad Sostenible”, where he highlighted that “the city has failed as we know it”, pointing out the need to “recover cities for the individual”.

This debate was organized by Espacio Aretha, in the framework of Madrid Design Festival. Along with José Luis Bescansa, architects Carlos Lamela, José María Ezquiaga, Reyes Pérez, César Frías and Pablo Olalquiaga took part.

José Luis Bescansa focused his presentation on the importance of urban scales, where it is necessary to take into account the interrelationships of human flow such as transportation, family or work.

In this sense, he assured that the city has failed as we know it, since its evolution has not been controlled by the user and public institutions as much as by industry itself. “We have to be able to control the monster,” he pointed out.

“We cannot clean up Madrid with electric cars that charge batteries, based on polluting Puertollano by producing those kilowatts. It must be a global sustainable model, not a local one.”

Ubicca’s experience

Bescansa emphasized the need to eliminate unnecessary variables “in order to recover the city for the individual,” assuring that urban space is once again of interest.

He explained that at Ubicca, co-creation workshops are continuously held with the individual, to learn about their needs and concerns before projecting a space in which they will live or work. “The pandemic has allowed us to stop and reflect and people don’t want the world as it was before.”

According to the general manager of Ubicca, where we are experts in the design of workspaces, the employee wants to have everything close by, to enjoy the city with a higher quality of life than they have today.

Reflections of the meeting

During the meeting, which is part of the “Conversations with Aretha” initiative, many interesting ideas and proposals were put on the table by prestigious architects who are the main characters of the change and evolution that our cities are undergoing, as well as the future of our cities during the next decade, given the foreseeable changes in new technologies; communications; behaviors; mobility; ways of working; and sustainability, among others.

Carlos Lamela highlighted the need to reinvent our cities and our construction in order to achieve a hopeful future. A future where there is room for massive immigration from more disadvantaged areas, promoting in this way a responsible and more equitable integration. On the other hand, he questioned the ostentatious approach of large smartcities projects far from the social reality without taking into account the reality of the immediate environment.

For his part, José María Ezquiaga enlightened us on the enormous potential of information, pointing out that the new urban planning has to be based on empirical data and knowledge. In this way, valid information is generated to create edifying purposes in the citizen. Within this reflection, he appealed to an ethics of the public in order to guarantee the good use of information.

During his speech, Reyes Perez conveyed optimism, affirming that there is a general spirit for things to change, since in times of crisis new and good ideas emerge due to a greater availability of time to think. He was confident that new actors will appear to think about the new city. This will make it possible to socialize ideas more among companies, citizens and the administration, as well as to generate sustainable, competitive and integrating cities, in which mixed-use spaces triumph and boundaries are blurred.

Ciudad Inteligente

Cesar Frías made special mention of the need to make urban planning regulations more flexible as a lever of change for a new and truly innovative urban planning. An urban planning that makes it possible to rethink the different project scales of housing, urbanizations and towns. He spoke about the need for urban planning that promotes measures to foster sustainability in the face of climate change. His statement that cities were better designed when they were designed by people based on their needs, than today when they are designed by architects tied to regulations, was striking.

Pablo Olalquiaga highlighted that there is a good basis for change. In this sense, he explained that the architect’s ideology speaks of multipurpose spaces for different uses and illuminated and ventilated common spaces.  Elements that make up a friendlier city, which is closer to the idea of the “15-minute city”. Although the regulations, the market, the demand and the political will have an important weight that hinders and interrupts the possibilities to improve the city and to make the spaces more human.

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