Plaza de Santo Domingo

Mariñas Arquitectos Asociados: The project presented consists of the urbanization works of Plaza de Santo Domingo in Madrid. Located in the historical core, it is part of a global project which seeks to generate a progressive pedestrianization and expansion of public transport in the city centre. This action is the first stage of a larger activity that should cover Plaza de Callao and both streets Jacometrezo and Preciados in the future. The whole area was the object of a Contest of Ideas and the present project is the development of a portion of the winner proposal. The sponsor of the project is the Ayuntamiento de Madrid (Madrid City Hall) through its Área de Gobierno de Urbanismo, Vivienda e Infraestructuras (Government Area of Urbanism, Housing and Infra-structure) with the following address: c/ Guatemala, 13, 28016 de Madrid.

THE OBJECT OF THE INTERVENTION

The recuperation of the open space of the place that had been the Plaza de Santo Domingo was one of the priorities of the General Plan in force, as well as the decision of the city government. Therefore it would be necessary to bury or, in this case, demolish the existing public parking lot, thus setting up with Preciados Street and Plaza de Callao a quality pedestrian space, regaining to the citizen entertainment a portion of the urban cask highly degraded and troublesome due to disordered superposition of contradictory and incompatible uses. The proposition was to demolish the existing parking building and the recuperation of an open space as a garden court on the roof of a new underground parking which, simultaneously with the transformation of Preciados Street in a pedestrian way and the Plaza de Callao, will form a new quality space, free of motor circulation.

INTERVENTION DESCRIPTION

To the nature of opportunity of this kind of action as a chance to regenerate urban space, we believed it was a proper occasion to add the necessity of defining new ways of appropriation of the public space trough an analysis of urban activity. This investigation revealed new perspectives of valorisation of this area and its potential to be used as a node of a digital network with free access that we propose to introduce within the open spaces system in Madrid city center. Our proposal consists in the development of the civic appropriation process that we have defined in the contest of ideas and which was based on two main guidelines:

01- A space for all kind of user:

Through the proposed design we seek to convert the public space into a big multifunctional carpet where an infinite range of activities could take place, without any limit of gender age, or cultural background. We believe that the urban space should facilitate and allow contact and interaction, not only between the individual and his adjoining environment but also with different places within the city. On the one hand, our proposal is based in spaces that are absolutely adapted and accessible for all kinds of visitors, especially for those who could have more difficulties such as kids, aged people, handicappers, women and young groups.
- Elimination of architectonic obstacles to make possible the easy use of bikes, wheelchairs, baby trolleys, etc; – Increase public transport, improving timetables, frequency and itineraries; – Flexibility of the use and opening of different ways of citizen participation that contemplate the demands of the various groups along time
- Recuperation of the vocation and memory of this public space as a place to get together.
On the other hand, we suggest an open space design that gives the user a feeling of safety through:
- Visibility, lighting pathways and resting places, transparency,
To see and to be seen – to hear and to be heard
- Clear and fluid pathways, well signaled to make it easily and quickly understandable.
Where you are and where you want to go Be able to escape and get help
- Multifunctional, attractive and pleasant environment that allows and makes social control easy during the day and the night.
We intend to use the gender factor, understood as the study of social relations and responsibility between men and women in a specific historical and socioeconomic context, as a key element to develop and design our urban spaces. Our main goal is to offer an adequate life quality to all the citizens analyzing and identifying particular issues, necessities and concrete requirements of each group.

02- A place for communication

Our plan is to turn these public spaces in Madrid center into an integrant part of a free wireless network – WI FI – connected to the city’s urban information database that should be developed on open spaces. This net would allow the citizens to have free access to a multiple range of information about the city (through mobile telephones or portable computers), such as traffic, public transport, weather, commercial information, cultural programmes and activities…which would enhance the citizen to obtain not only information but interactively participate or intervene in the decisions that are produced about his own town. Therefore, public space is turned into a space of collective participation and communication where each square is a node of this network for information, for help and active approach to citizenship. Presently Plaza de Santo Domingo has already a free connection to wireless Internet, been one of the first public spaces to have this new public service. This connection allows the control of violent or sexist contents and it is also a means of investigation that provides data to understand better the extent of this kind of proposal in a larger system of free space in our cities. From a geometric point of view, the total surface of this phase of the intervention is of 5.306 m2 including Plaza de Santo Domingo the adjoining streets, called “cuesta de Santo Domingo”.

The topography of the site is certainly taken into account as there is a difference of 8 meters between both ends, fact that determines the fragmentation of the space into terraces that adapt to the parking and makes the transverse design of the plaza more difficult. The basic material that configures the space is the blue ‘platino’ granite from the region of Cáceres (ESP) in small shaped pieces that provide to the pavement an almost domestic appearance. Stainless steel and Teca wood constitute the palette of materials that, along with a selection of autochthonous plants species and low cost maintenance, give a touch of colour and fragrances to such space.

Landscape Architecture: Mariñas Arquitectos Asociados
The material execution budget: 1.526.694 euros
Project ratified budget, taxes inclusive, is 2.107.447 euros.
Date: 2007
Area: 5.306 m2

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