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Madrid 2121-- Forward to Future Sponge City Sustainability?

The Ecotopia 2121 Project details the future of 100 cities across the globe as though they've somehow overcome all the grave environmental challenges our age and grown to become super-Green and super-ecofriendly. This month, we highlight the future of Madrid.

Like many capital cities, Madrid is an administrative hub, a business hub, an industrial hub, and a cultural hub of a whole nation. This profundity of ‘hubness’ attracts a great continuous flow of people and money into the city to the point that Madrid has become ‘overdeveloped’. And some also say it has become overpopulated, too, with a metropolitan area of seven million people all driving too many cars on too many highways and throwing away too much trash.

Madrid’s journey to over-development began in the 16th century when King Phillip II moved the Spanish capital from Valladollid. During Phillip II’s reign, as with his successors, Madrid also became the capital of the entire Spanish Empire with colonies in the Americas, Asia and Africa. The Nationalist period of the 20th Century was an attempt to continue the process but by then, most of Spain’s overseas territories had fought for and gained their independence.

Nowadays, however, Madrid still resists releasing any more political power to other regions in Spain. In the future, as Madrid works to prosper well into the 21st century at the expense of other Spanish cities, it carries on to build great boulevards and highways, all made of concrete and asphalt, unable to absorb water. Thus storm water sweeps across roads in small floods, washing trash and pollution off into local lakes, streams and rivers.

The solution, which is manifest in Madrid 2121, is two-fold:

Firstly, the Madridistas look to put a curb on the use of concrete; demanding that one-half of the city’s surface remains uncovered. This process will help transform Madrid into a Sponge City

Secondly, many regions in Spain want out of it: Andalusia, Asturias, Aragon, the Basque country, Canarias, Cantabria, Castile, Catalonia, Galicia, Islas Baleares, and Malaga--they all campaign for independence. The only way for Spain to remain intact, is by devolving far more political power from Madrid to all the other cities in these regions.

Madrid 2121 as a Sponge City


Once political power is devolved; economic and financial power is also spread around the nation, letting each provincial capital spend its taxes on projects of its own choosing. Madrid is thus released from constant over-development and is able to 'de-develop' to a more sustainable level.

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