Madrid Nuevo Norte, a project committed to the best urban sustainability standards

  • Project
  • Sustainability
DCN commissioned Arup to undertake an “Urban Sustainability” study on

Madrid Nuevo Norte, a project committed to the best urban sustainability standards


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Arup identified eight categories on which every urban project must focus to achieve sustainability excellence.  

Urban developments are a unique opportunity to address the daunting economic, social and environmental challenges faced by cities.  


Madrid, 18 January 2018. Arup, an independent engineering, planning and consultancy firm, carried out an “Urban Sustainability” study on behalf of Distrito Castellana Norte. This study identifies the eight categories in which any urban development project must focus
to achieve excellence.

The study concludes that urban developments are a unique opportunity to address the problems and challenges faced by cities today at the social, economic and environmental levels, including climate change, inequality, social cohesion, attracting investment, stimulating economic activity and job creation. Madrid is already making great strides in this regard, with multiple public, private and social initiatives, as well as environmental projects. Against this backdrop, Madrid Nuevo Norte is an urban regeneration project that provides an excellent opportunity to position Madrid among the most sustainable cities on the planet.


Current agreements and international frameworks

The report is based on the updated definition of sustainable urban development: a compact city that is resource-efficient, respectful of the environment and socially stable. To this end, Arup analysed the main agreements and international frameworks on urban sustainability, including the EU Urban Agenda (Amsterdam Pact 2016), UN-Habitat (Quito, 2016), UN Sustainable Development Goals, 2015 (UN-SDG´s 2030), World Economic Forum (Inspiring Future Cities & Urban Services 2016), C40 (Cities Climate Leadership Group), and the “Paris Agreement 2015″ (UN-FCCC).

An international study of the situation reveals that the path to the current scenario has been slow, albeit with greater social awareness about the need for action. We live at a historic moment. The number of actions and stakeholders committed to a sustainable future have increased exponentially. In parallel, there is greater recognition and involvement of cities as key actors in addressing sustainability challenges.


Eight urban sustainability categories

An analysis of international initiatives has revealed several common parameters, which have been clustered into eight key categories that should be taken into consideration when exploring the sustainable transformation of cities: Urban regeneration and economic sustainability; Preservation of environmental values; Compact and mixed-use urban model; Mobility and connectivity; Social interaction and urban furnishings; Resource efficiency; Applied innovation, Smart City and Skills and Wellness.

Indeed, the Arup Report concludes that urban sustainability is a complex process in which some aspects build on others. It should start with a strategic vision to create growth and prosperity in the city and end with the ultimate goal of any urban development: improve current live conditions without compromising those of future generations.

The first category focuses on urban regeneration and economic sustainability as a critical starting point for any sustainable project, with an emphasis on the need to base large urban developments on a robust strategic vision of the city that is economically viable and leads to job creation.

The second category refers to the preservation of environmental values, which then become a design asset that generates huge social and economic benefits.

The third category underscores that a sustainable city should be based on a compact, urban and mixed-use model, with high-density and mixed land use. This fosters social cohesion, making it possible to offer more and better services and greater resource efficiency. The fourth category of this city model promotes mobility and connectivity, encourages the use of public transport, is pedestrian-friendly and makes bicycles a real alternative.

The fifth category, social interaction and urban furnishings, explains how this city model fosters cohesion through interaction between citizens, the economy of local shops, workplaces and social and cultural facilities. Meanwhile, the sixth category emphasises that new developments should focus on natural resource efficiency while meeting the needs of current lifestyles. The seventh category delves into applied innovation and Smart City and addresses how the digital era and technological revolution will lead to a profound transformation of cities.

In short, as outlined in the eighth category, living conditions and well-being, the ultimate goal of any sustainable urban development should be to improve the living conditions of cities and the well-being of people.

The engineering firm also analysed projects similar to the redevelopment planned in northern Madrid. These projects are good models for urban sustainability and an example of best practices from each category.

You can read the full report here.

18 January 2018


Madrid Nuevo Norte

for Madrid Nuevo Norte