activating land

activating land

‘eco boulevard’ (Madrid, Spain) by ecosistema urbano arquitectos


This is an enormous and eye-catching structure in the centre of a traffic circle. Ecosistema Urbano designed this “urban recycling operation” for the Madrid Directorate of Residential Projects Innovation. Ecosistema’s goals for the project were to develop an architectural solution to urban heat islands and climate change, employing wind power, passive cooling, and solar energy to offset CO2 emissions. Wind and solar cells also power a multi-purpose hub of urban networks, as the tower houses community functions, recreational facilities, and plaza-like public meeting space; all of these benefit from the cooling effects of the building’s architecture. Surplus energy generated by the structure will be returned to the city-wide power grid.

So, the proposal for the Eco-boulevard of Vallecas can be defined as an operation of urban recycling that consists of the following actuations: the installation of three social revitalizing air trees placed along the existing urbanization, the densification of trees within their existing concourse, the reduction and asymmetric disposition of the traffic routes, and superficial interventions within the existing urbanization (perforations, backfill, paint, etc.) that achieve reconfiguration of the executed urban development.

Eco Bulevar was conceived as a temporary solution or treatment for ailing urban areas, an “emergency” measure instituted for a limited period of time until permanent solutions like urban reforestation could establish trends for permanent change. The architects frequently refer to the structure as an “air tree,” referring to its autonomy and minimal consumption of resources-apart from production and construction, that is. They also imagine the tower’s components as models or modules that can be dismantled and exported to other, similarly needy locations throughout Madrid and other cities.

Three pavilions or air trees function like open structures to multiply resident-selected activities.  Installed in the non-city as temporary prostheses, they will be used only until air-conditioned spaces are no longer needed, when the area becomes “fixed”.  When a sufficient amount of time has passed, these devices should be dismantled, leaving remaining spaces that resemble forest clearings.  The air tree is a light structure, easily dismantled and energetically self-sufficient, that only consumes what it is capable of producing by means of systems designed to capture and use solar photovoltaic energy.


The project was completed in two phases over three years: 2004-2005; and 2006-2007.

+ INFO: here 

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