By Aimee Knight
A collaborative housing venture in Madrid is paving the way towards more socially and ecologically sustainable ways to live.
“For about 20 years, I’ve been interested in architectural ecology,” says Iñaki Alonso, one of the pioneering architects behind the Entrepatios Las Carolinas project.
A venture – and adventure – in cohousing, it was built in Madrid’s working-class southern suburbs, with architectural sustainability and energy efficiency as top priorities. The dwelling runs entirely on renewables, produces zero carbon emissions and holds great social significance.
It took almost two decades of dreaming, planning and determination to come to fruition but, in 2020, the Entrepatios project became Madrid’s first model of collective ownership. Comprised of 17 units, the complex is run by a cooperative that owns the building, in which all the residents made an initial investment.
“The most difficult thing is getting away from the logic of the capitalist system, based on ownership,” says Nacho Garcia Pedraza, who has been part of the project from the beginning.
All tenants pay a monthly sum for the right to use their apartment in an arrangement somewhere between ownership and renting. It allows the cohabitants – roughly 30 adults and 20 children – to enjoy their homes indefinitely while contributing to decisions about design, but without having to buy the place outright.
In short, no-one is an owner, and no-one can sell.
Residents say that this makes the space a more welcoming, affordable and secure place to live. “This is architecture serving people,” says Alonso. “[It’s] not just a building… It’s a dream come true. While we each have our own private spaces, we try to live not in a house but in an open, collaborative community.”
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