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This presentation focuses on one episode in the development of Arturo Soria Street that foregrounds the urban dynamics of the Desarrollismo period in Madrid and the profound impact on the urban form of Ciudad Lineal, which persists into the present day. The 1950s in Spain represented the transition from a context of political and economic autarchy to a period of (controlled) openness and expansive economy. The iron fist of Franco´s politics and its increasing complicity with prominent entrepreneurs created an optimal economic and political environment for developmental dynamics to flourish. The growing focus of monopolistic financial capital on housing and urban planning reinforced the contradictions and dichotomies inherent in the modern metropolis. Between the late 1950s and 1970s, Madrid experienced an intensification of the binomial center-periphery, the polarization of the cityscape and the urban society, and a scale leap driven by the logic of maximum profit, evidencing urban inequality.
Within this context, Arturo Soria´s Ciudad Lineal—a border and bridge between Madrid’s downtown and its fragmented periphery—emerges as a singular case. The effects of the interaction between different agents and the complexity of the site, including urban regulations, the multiplicity of landowners, transport networks, historical background, and ecological legacy, led to intricate negotiations between different stakeholders. These include the Compañía Madrileña de Urbanización, other real estate companies, the city council, and different social groups that gradually emerged at the end of the 1960s. After a long process of land and political speculation, the development of the original Ciudad Lineal accelerated. Thousands of trees were cut down, the original hotelitos demolished and replaced by four to five-story, isolated blocks, and a rapid expressway became the dominant element of its new landscape. During these decades, the transformations of the Ciudad Lineal via the complex interactions between private investment and the public administration unveil the mechanisms of power of dominant classes over urban space and its effects on the urban society.
About the Speaker
Diego Caro is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Architecture of The University of Hong Kong. He has recently successfully defended his PhD dissertation titled “Arturo Soria’s Ciudad Lineal: a social history of urban Madrid, 1880s-2000s.” His research fields include the history & theory of modern urbanism, and urban spatial restructuring under global capitalism. Before commencing his PhD, he worked at the offices of Kengo Kuma, Vector Architects, and Neri & Hu.
Putri R. Santoso is a PhD student at the Department of Architecture. An architect and urbanist by training, she graduated from the Institute of Technology Bandung and received her Master of Urbanism from the Delft University of Technology. Her current PhD research focuses on the interactions between urban design and infrastructure in Jakarta, Indonesia.