Sunday, September 09, 2007

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Whenever I see work starting on one of Madrid's squares it is hard not feel a little bit scared. The prospect of another quiet, leafy haven been turned into a hostile, stone or concrete desert is always on the cards with the city administration here. It is not just a question of poor urban aesthetics, the new model of square also comes aimed at the homeless. Instead of doing something to deal with the issue of why people are homeless, the administration opts for making their life as uncomfortable and difficult as possible. In the process it creates public spaces that nobody wants to use. If you think I'm exaggerating, take a look at this excellent video from adn.es.

4 comments:

Prophet5 said...

On the other hand: they are building brilliant places for skaters, though I guess they will start skate proofing those in a few years times. And it gives the concrete companies something to do now the building boom is slowly coming to a halt.

I am of the opinion that most spanish people don't have any respect for old architecture, be it public squares or old buildings. It always kills me inside when I see an old house, warehouse or factory destroyed to make space for another ugly block of flats. I see this here in Barcelona all the time and on my holiday in Basque country it was even worse. Somehow Spain never learned the lessons other countries like the UK or Germany learned in the seventies. Lets hope they get it before it is too late.

Katie said...

one of the things i noticed after being out of madrid all summer was a really big hole in chueca where the mercado san antón used to be. my peluquero a few blocks away told me that it was in bad shape anyway, but i was totally disheartened to find out that the corte inglés bought the space and is putting a supercor there...

spanishben said...

I never thought about this angle before, but it seems to make complete sense. The banks made life hard for the homeless years ago by making it much harder to get into the ATM cubicles at night. That just leaves doorways for sleeping in - cold, unpleasant and noisy.

Graeme said...

They are brilliant places for skaters, and for people who want to play football. They are just not for people who want to sit somewhere. The one thing I hadn't noticed until I watched the video was that spine along the concrete benches to deter people from lying on them - it's almost sinister.

Katie, I noticed the disappearance of the market too - it's bad enough that every new barrio in Madrid just gets a Carrefour, but when they start killing the markets in the centre it's really bad news. The one next to the Plaza Mayor is being converted, I believe into a tourist market - the stall holders were given no choice. It's not like the Corte Inglés really needs any help to take over everything.