New forms of senior living in Madrid Healthy neighbourhoods, from the renovation and design of public space

Madrid is one of the most ageing cities in Spain, with a growing trend in the number of elderly people who will live in Madrid in the coming years. This represents an architectural, urban, social and economic challenge of the first magnitude to which the city of Madrid must give an innovative response adapted to the socio-cultural and urban context of the people of Madrid.

We ask ourselves:

  • what should the new ways of life be like for the elderly in the city of Madrid?;
  • what should the residential neighbourhoods be like so that they are safe, comfortable and attractive for our elderly?;
  • is there a model of differentiated activities for the elderly for the design of the neighbourhoods?;
  • how can active ageing actions be incorporated in the city of Madrid?;
  • how can we incorporate active ageing actions in the city of Madrid?

These questions will be answered with the proposed work, looking at successful cases from other European cities and adapting them to the context of the city of Madrid.

The scope of the collaboration will be the academic year 2021-2022 from the autumn and spring call of the Final Degree Project of the Degree in Architectural Foundations of the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid. From UPM

Number of students foreseen: 10 in the autumn semester and 10 in the spring semester, depending on the selection of topics and the interests of Madrid Futuro.

Centre Involved: Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid

Social Need/s Covered by the Service-Learning Experience

It is a new experience.  In many European and American cities, new forms of living arrangements for the elderly are being developed. It is well known that people progressively lose abilities in their ageing process and that no general guidelines can be given, but that there are stages in which the elderly can live alone with telecare support; in the next stage they need more health and care services and there comes a time when they are no longer able to live alone. Also important is the line of work that aims at “ageing in the neighbourhood”, as there is a lot of evidence of the important psychological dysfunctionalities that appear when the elderly person leaves his or her usual place of residence.

Link the Experience to the SDGs

Month of February
SDG 3 targets related to the project:

  • 3.6 By 2020, halve the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes worldwide
  • 3.9 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and pollution of air, water and soil

Service-Learning project actions related to these targets:
Older people have difficulties in getting around the city, as many of them have less cognitive and mobility capacity due to ageing. Streets and public spaces are NOT designed for an older adult, who walks slowly, can become disoriented, needs to sit down to stop, and safely cross streets.

The actions of the Service-Learning project related to this objective will be the following:

  • 1st Assess critical points in public space that do not have sufficient objective or subjective safety for older people.
  • 2º Evaluate the most polluted black spots in the city of Madrid, in order to prevent an increase in respiratory illnesses among the elderly, especially in Madrid’s neighbourhoods with the highest number of elderly people.
  • 3º Evaluate the green areas, parks, gardens, and boulevards, that the neighbourhood has to consider if they are enough to renew the air and filter the impurities.

Month of March
SDG 11 targets related to the project:

  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all and improve road safety, including through the expansion of public transport, with special attention to the needs of persons in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.
  • 11.6 By 2030, reduce the negative per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying particular attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible green spaces and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.

Service-Learning project actions related to these targets
Many older people do NOT use public transport for a number of reasons and have difficulty reaching green spaces and parks because if there is too steep a slope or no toilets in or near parks they do not go there regularly.

The actions of the Service-Learning project related to these goals will be as follows:

  • 4º To find out the means of public transport used by the elderly in the neighbourhoods under study, taking into account their daily activities and differentiating by gender, the routes taken by men and women.
  • 5º To evaluate the real accessibility of the elderly to parks and gardens in their neighbourhood, graphing the greatest difficulties for this group.
  • 6º Evaluate the activities that parks and green areas provide for the elderly to find out whether they are adapted to their real needs and wishes, or whether there are deficiencies.

Month of April-May
SDG 16 targets related to the project:

  • 16.7 Ensure inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels that is responsive to the needs of people with disabilities.

Service-Learning project actions related to these targets:
Older people often do not have a voice and participation in decisions, due to the absence of the digital channel among them.

The actions of the Service-Learning project related to this goal are going to be:

  • 1st to evaluate the degree of participation of older adults in decisions in cultural centres, libraries, leisure or sports centres.
  • 2nd To evaluate the degree of participation of this group in political decisions, via the district councils.
  • 3º To evaluate the degree of participation of this group in decisions regarding mobility and accessibility to the facilities and daily activities of this group.

Service Objectives

The viability of the project is high, as two complementary actions concur. On the one hand, Madrid Futuro’s interest in actively collaborating in the search for solutions to the ageing of Madrid’s population. Madrid Futuro brings together a consortium of companies, corporations and entities interested in supporting this initiative, with the contribution of compatible data to the students. On the other hand, the professors of the TFG in Architecture have shown interest in tutoring students with these objectives.

The dynamics of intermediate and final presentations of the Final Degree Project confirm the feasibility of having these documents completed within the deadlines.

Learning objectives

The aim is to “rethink” what the city of Madrid should be like in order to become more friendly and inclusive towards older people. There are already models of initiatives in other European cities. The aim is to study how they could be “translated” to the Madrid context, given our social, economic, legal, climatic idiosyncrasies… etc. The Covid pandemic has put the spotlight on the inadequacy of the current Elderly Residences and the need to think of other models for living, coexisting and relating to others in the city.

This objective fits perfectly with the Service-Learning methodology, as it will be through the study of successful international cases and their application to the Madrid context that the most viable solutions will be proposed

Link to curriculum

The learning objectives are to deepen our knowledge of a real problem in the city of Madrid through applied research and to propose innovative, efficient, inclusive and sustainable solutions for a new way of life for the elderly in Madrid.
Academic competences to be achieved: knowledge of the applied research method. Complex problem solving. Comparative study of solutions. Evaluation of the feasibility of proposals. Oral presentation of conclusions.

Personal competences: empathy with the problems of elderly people in Madrid; group dynamics;
Social competences: help for the elderly; reduction of hospitalisation costs; promotion of social inclusion.

Activities carried out for achieving the service objectives

The Madrid Futuro Association would like to hold a final ceremony to award diplomas and recognition to those students who have excelled in their research.

We want to make an exhibition (physical or virtual) of all the works, and the drafting of an e-book with ISBN of the compendium of works at the end of the academic course.


Students will present their work orally throughout the semester. At the end, they will hand in a written document and a short 7-minute video summarising the main ideas of their proposal.

Meetings with students
Records of difficulties and solutions

Partnership & Reciprocity

The NGO group Madrid Futuro, was born from the COVID pandemic with the aim of considering new ways of life for this group, from housing solutions to the development of their activities within the neighbourhood. Collaboration is sought from the research work of the Final Degree Projects, to establish real solutions applicable to the Madrid context.
Madrid Futuro

Student voice

The didactic methodology is framed within what is established in a subject such as the Final Degree Project, teaching that combines learning based on research into a real and concrete question, comparatively analysing other experiences, to establish original and innovative conclusions that resolve the challenge, in this case – ageing in the neighbourhood and with new forms of housing for senior citizens in Madrid”.

The temporal distribution in each semester is the presentation of the title of the work, a week after the beginning of the course. The presentation of the first advances in a month of work. The presentation of the results obtained and the first conclusions and the presentation of the complete work at the end of the semester.

Evaluation and monitoring of processes and results

The student’s relationship with the tutor will be continuous throughout the semester. In addition, 2 or 3 meetings will be established with the Madrid Futuro managers to share opinions and exchange data and results.

Indicators of service impact

Madrid Futuro wants to present the results of this research to the Mayor of Madrid and his municipal corporation, with the aim of being able to carry out, in the medium term, some of the ideas put forward here.

Indicators of learning impact

The student’s relationship with the tutor will be continuous throughout the semester. In addition, 2 or 3 meetings will be established with the Madrid Futuro managers to share opinions and exchange data and results.

Celebration of the project and its results

Real or virtual exhibition of the TFG work of the students selected for this collaboration.
E-book summary with ISBN of the most significant contributions of the papers
7-minute micro-videos of each of the students’ work.
The potential for internal transfer to the UPM is considered very high, due to the initiative of the teaching staff involved.
The potential for external transfer to the UPM is considered very high, due to the initiative of Madrid Futuro.

Dissemination activities

The dissemination of the results of this collaboration is an intrinsic part of it.
A summary dossier will be prepared with all the contributions of the students. These results will be presented to the municipal corporation of Madrid City Council. They will be presented to all the companies collaborating with Madrid Futuro.
The results of the micro-videos will be disseminated on the Madrid Futuro website and, if appropriate, on the Madrid City Council website.

Duration & Sustainability

The project will have a duration of one academic year, structured in the autumn and spring semesters, with about 5 students per semester and with the collaboration of tutors specialized in planning, construction and design of the technical school of architecture of Madrid.

Human and material resources

It is supported by tutors, the collaboration of the NGO Madrid Futuro and an academic collaboration grant provided by the Universidad Pilotécnica de Madrid.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email