Puente de Vallecas (Madrid)

puente vallecas

Puente de Vallecas appears as a settlement at the end of the XIXth century, by profiting of the “border effect”: already in the municipality of Vallecas, some things were still posible, which was no longer the case in a Madrid municipality that was building its ordered extension, and that finished at the Abroñigal Creek. The area used the present Avenida de la Albufera as a backbone, as it was the road to Valencia. 100 years later the creek has been replaced by the M-30 freeway, and what was a bridge over the creek is today the viaduct of the freeway over the avenue that still organizes the area.

Puente de Vallecas was informal when related to the ordered XIXth century Madrid extension, but it was not that illegal as planning laws were rather non-existent at the time. But the area was built to precarious standards: narrow streets, with no overall logical grid, always looking for the highest possible number of lots. It became a destination for rural populations, that, although in small number, began arriving to Madrid not being able to afford a home in the city.

A century later, and even if there have been some more regular housing projects, and infrastructure actions, and all the streets are paved and have their water, sewage, and all other urban services in full work, the informal origin can still be seen. The recently arrived dwellers from around Madrid were substituted by Andalusians or Castilians, which were eventually substituted, for the last decade, by Latin Americans, North Africans or, merely, Madrileans that can no longer establish a new family in the urban core. There is more crime than in other areas of Madrid, but it is still Europe and the security level is not that different from that of the urban core. And the per capita revenue is lesser than average. The (comparatively low) real estate price has led to a higher than usual concentration of public housing, and the market-oriented housing has sometimes to force dimensions to install a standard project (especially garages) in micro-lots. Besides, the area is densifying. But all the transitions between dwellers have been rather gradual, with relatively few forced relocations. And the diversity is increasing, making it much less marginal as it has become, in metropolitan terms, almost central by location.

Calle Doctor Salgado

Doctor Salgado street shows how complex it is to change such a tissue with just changes on the lot line. Going from slightly under 6 m to a bit more than 15 takes decades. The street will connect, when fully open (there is still a block that, well, blocks…), the Doña Carlota market (A) to Avenida de la Albufera.


Avenida de la Albufera, with slightly less than 23 m of width, is the central axis of the area. Its retail base is suffering with the economic crisis



The block which will have to be open. Notice that the building on the left has been waiting for the new street for decades.

--Salgado-a4 --Salgado-a3


A social housing development of the postwar period

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