4 February 2020
for Madrid Nuevo Norte
The sustainability strategy of Madrid Nuevo Norte, the massive project that will change Madrid’s image and generate 250,000 jobs in the capital, does not focus solely on respect for the natural environment or resource efficiency. At the heart of the design is social sustainability, understood as the impact that the project will have on the lives of its inhabitants and the measures that need to be taken to improve their quality of life. A healthy urban environment, both physically and psychologically, is a particularly significant aspect of this approach.
Madrid Nuevo Norte’s social sustainability also covers essential aspects such as historical values and the identity of the neighbourhoods adjacent to the project or the construction of facilities, such as schools, health, sports or cultural centres and senior centres, among others, to create active communities, with the public space as the backbone of everyday life. Equality of opportunity for all inhabitants of the new neighbourhood, regardless of age, gender or functional diversity, is also considered a vital element.
Beyond that, particular emphasis has been placed on designing more liveable public spaces that enhance health, through climate adaptation and improved air quality and urban life.
A healthier and more active mobility model has been sought with the addition of cycling lanes, as well as safe and accessible routes for pedestrians. This encourages citizens to combine public transport with daily physical activity. Indeed, walking and cycling are heart-healthy activities that help reduce the effects of a sedentary life and stress. Specifically, 13 kilometres of new cycling lanes will connect Madrid Nuevo Norte with neighbouring districts and the existing cycling network such as the Anillo Verde Ciclista (Green Cycling Belt) and Colmenar cycling lane.
This model also reduces fossil fuel consumption, which translates into a reduction in air pollution. This also has a direct impact on people’s health through improved quality of the air we breathe.
The ecological restoration of the urban environment shall be structured around a specific habitability and comfort project for green areas and streets, which will focus on specific issues such as greater presence of vegetation in the public space, beyond tree-lined streets and parterres that can usually be found in cities. In the case of Madrid Nuevo Norte, vegetation will colonise uncommon surfaces, such as façades and roofs. Therefore, creeper and climber plants, among others, will be used.
In addition to introducing nature into the city, Madrid Nuevo Norte will use the same design and materials used in the streets and squares to regulate the temperature of public spaces, reducing the urban heat-island effect. This will prevent the appearance of hot microclimates in summer and areas with excessive shade in winter, enhancing the comfort level of people walking in the area.
Trees and the shade canopy they provide are essential to creating comfortable streets. However, it is not uncommon that slow-growing trees are used in new urban developments, taking many years before they can provide a pleasant shade. This has also been taken into account. Streets and squares will be lined with fast-growing trees and urban furniture designed to provide shade immediately.
This effort will also be complemented with water features in public spaces, such as fountains or water surfaces, to facilitate evaporation and cooling of the air to beat the heat in the summer.