Archivo por meses: febrero 2019

Public spaces for the elderly

Hello to everybody!

After the first visit to Usera during the morning, we continued the seminars in the afternoon.

First, Professor Ester Higueras showed us the importance of a bioclimatic approach in order to design spaces for the elderly. It is needed special attention on the elements of design in order to assure comfort conditions for this sector of the population.

Professor Ester Higueras explaining the bioclimatic charts and strategies for designing comfort public spaces.

There are many elements that we can include in order to design a high quality open space, such as shadow protections, radiation areas, wind barriers, fountains and water elements for refresh the environment in summer, deciduous trees, pergolas or vegetation.

It is important the previous analysis of the climate parameters that define the main characteristics for the spatial study case.

Then, Dra. Cristina Gallego showed us the importance of taking into consideration the perspective of gender in the policies, planning and action. In this context, she focused on the main challenges of the city from the point of view of the care function, active aging and how to address analysis taking into account gender perspective.

Dra. Cristina Gallego introducing the gender perspective when talking about active aging.

We finished the day with some time for sharing ideas for the workshop first activity, which will help us to collect innovative start-ups, apps, IT, technogical and material solutions, etc that contribute to improve the public space from the perspective of active aging for the elderly.

Next Monday we will welcome our guests from Newcastle who will share their local experiences and research with us!

Looking forward to meet you all!

Visit to Usera

Hello to everybody!!

This Monday we have started our day in Usera district. We met in Usera Metro station at 10 h to start our trip. The aim of this first visit was to analyze the state of the public space that is included in the Plan Mad-Re.

Alumni and coordinators starting the trip in from of Usera Market.

As soon as we started our walk, we find this space in a little corner.

The holes in the pavement due to some empty tree basins create risk to cause falls. The banks, located in the beginning of the slope are not accessible enough for users, especially for the elderly. The view from this point is Madrid skyline, including the Colon tower, but the cars in front of this area make it not very attractive.

We also find interesting typologies in the middle of the neighborhood, reminiscence of ancient colonies of this district.

We continue our walk across the streets. Narrow pavements, high slopes, dog poops, and cars and vans everywhere are some of the characteristics of these streets.

A very common situation we have found in the neighborhood is this kind of intersections, where the pedestrian needs to go further to look for a safe place to cross the street.

In this case, Marcelo Usera with Mercedes Manjón street. It becomes a real challenge to cross the street. Even though there are only two road rails, the traffic density is too high that the streets have also fences to protect pedestrians and make it difficult to jump across.

We arrive to Julián Marías Square. The fountain is dark green, with some garbage floating on it. The banks are not protected by trees so in the summer it has to be a very hard place to stay as the pavement is hard. The space seems very poor maintenance and quality.

Juan Marías Square. The square lacks of vegetation due to the parking underground.

After Juan Marías Square we arrive to a bigger “green” area that continues the route and solves the height difference in a very particular way. There is no accessible path, even there are some ramps that try to solve somehow the situation.

The ramp plane adapts to the slope of the ground instead of being flat. 

Not only would it be a challenge to pass through this path in wheelchair, for example, but it is also a challenge for everybody to walk on clean floor.

Cars have invaded pavements, even in places protected with bollards.

Car placed in the middle of a pedestrian cross.

Not only cars, but also some items are real obstacles in the streets.

A garbage container in the middle of the street.

Other common situation is this solution for the pavement of the pedestrian crossings. Although this normative has been recently updated, it is well known that the path should get the person to a vertical plane, so they can orient themselves in the street.

The discontinuity between the podotactile pavement doesn’t solve the accessibility problems. Also the position of the signal in the middle of the way makes it a little bit difficult to pass through this sidewalk.

We continue our route, visiting the surroundings of the elderly care centers of the neighbourhood.

The district is well know by their migrant community, which is one of the strongest potentials. There is such an interesting cultural mixture in this community.

This church has welcomed different cultures. Chinese mass is given in the morning, then Latinoamerican mass rituals are also organized during the week in combination with the local celebrations.

We arrive to another elderly centre, meeting point for many persons from the neighborhood, as it seems:

The access to the elderly center is not evident, and people tend to cross the road directly.  

In our route we continue to find the lack of accessibility in the neighborhood.

In this pedestrian alley we can see the ramp without any rail for support.

There are also abandoned plots in the middle of the urban tissue.

This abandoned plots seem a garbage point as well as vandalism and graffiti.

We start soon to imitate neighbors from Usera and use the roads instead of the sidewalks…

Between the cars, an old couple walks in the middle of the road.

…and we understand soon why.

Staying area, overcrowded by cars.

Dog poops create a continuos carpet in the only walkable space free of cars.

The podotactile pavement ends in the parking, including steps.

We continue the street until we get to Mariano Vela Street, where we can find the main equipments of the district, including another elderly care centre.

Elderly people that go to the center could enjoy a better space to sit down and chat.

In this equipment complex, we also find some little areas for elderly, such as machines for exercises.

However, we can also find persons that don’t feel comfortable in the current banks or they just want to look at something lively…

…or other ones that want to train all by themselves.

Continuing our route to Pradolongo Park, we find some interesting spots such as Cinema Usera.

Cinema Usera remains in the park, a collaborative building workshop by TodoXlaPraxis and the Zofío neighbors.

The limits with Pradolongo Park are full of cars and vans, as the rest of the public spaces.

There are many vans in the public spaces of this district. This is also due to the existence of many garages and workshops installations.

Pradolongo Park could be better connected by a clear and safe pedestrian cross, for example.

We find another elderly care center as we go down Rafaela Ybarra Avenue.

As the rest of the elderly care centers of the neighborhood, the access to this equipment is not evident for its users.

Being old in this spaces supposes a daily challenge.

In our way to the last elderly care centre, we find some street art that brings life to the walls of the street.

We also visited the Elderly Care Center Zofío. We were taken to visit all the installations and services of the center. There are between 4 – 6 people working there every day. Moreover, many of the activities are organized by volunteers.

Services and activities that are offered in this elderly care center.


They offer informatic classes, gym, yoga, arts, dance, painting…

The visit to the elderly care center, thanks to the support of Usera Public Social Services and the District Council of Usera.

Back in the street, we finish our walk in the limits to the A-42 (Princesa de Austria Street). A complex of gardens and equipments are set in this part of the district, in order to reduce the noise and traffic pollution of the road.

This area seems to attract many people, despite their location.

The last tour around the district offers some important physical barriers that have been used as base walls for paintings.

The closer we got to Plaza Elíptica, we started to see evidence of accessibility plans, renovation projects and the improvements both in housing and public space.

Installation of a lift in the exterior of the building in order to assure accessibility to all the floors.

Paintings become art and not vandalism.

Madrid Art Project by Boamistura.

Accessibility plan for the underground station. 

This was the first visit to Usera district in the UNI-Health program and also for many of the students. We will come back for further analysis focusing in different topics such as air pollution, noise levels, accessibility or green areas.

It has been indeed an interesting visit shared by UNI-Health group to have a first overview of the main problems of the district as well as the strengths and possitive characteristics.

Next Monday we will have the special session with our guests from Newcastle University to share their expertise and experience about age-friendly spaces and active ageing policies and plans.

Looking forward to meet you!

Climate Change and Health

Hello to everybody!

In this week we have met Dra. Cristina Linares, from Instituto de Salud Carlos III, who has explained us the consequences of climate change on health. After a general overview about the principal effects associated with climate change, we could understood why it is a greater challenge in urban context. Pollution and Heat Island Effect aggravate this problem.

Dra. Cristina Linares explaining the consequences of climate change and its effects on health.

We can also find higher risk and mortality rates amongst the most vulnerable groups of the population: elderly, women, children, people with some level of dependency, pregnant women.

It has been a very interesting session to understand how climate change have deeper consequences in our lives and, moreover, our health.

How can we design urban spaces to make them adaptative and resilient to this future situation?

Next session was presented by Raquel Díez Abarca, from Green Building Council Spain (GBCe). She showed us an interesting methodology and tool to implement bioclimatic evaluation and assess for bioclimatic design through HADES tool. Based on the Spanish Technical Building Code (CTE) HADES evaluates the project requirements according to the local weather characteristics in order to adapt its design with sustainable criteria. The GBCe tools are free and suppose a very interesting start point to design building taking into in consideration sustainable factors in the management of the building as a whole. 

For the elderly, bioclimatic design in the spaces they use is a key factor to guarantee their health, their comfort and also to save energy, as their situation is usually more vulnerable than other sectors.

Raquel Díez explaining the different methodologies and projects they develop in Green Building Council Spain.

Finally, in the afternoon we were introduced to the local context of the elderly in Usera District, by the hand of Carmen Herrera, Leader of the Department of Social Services in Usera.

Carmen Herrera introducing the statistics of Madrid, the Madrid Age-Friendly Plan and the activities they coordinate in the Social Services in Usera.

We completed many of our documents with additional information about demographic and health analysis that have been recently developed in the district. We were also explained the different social services that citizens can ask for in the Social Services Centers. There are many facilities, services and activities offer, both public and at home, in order to promote autonomy for the elderly as long as possible.

There are seven Elderly Daycare Centers in Usera that satisfy the necessities of the neighborhood. However, many of them do not count with the accessibility requirements for the neighbors that currently use them. One of the main issues is accessibility. These public buildings and the pathway to get there are not always adapted to the requirements of accesibility, anti-slippery conditions, slopes and inclinations…

Other relevant aspect is that the district is characterized by a high level of engagement and participation and every Friday there are open-air active sessions. However, the lack of public toilets makes exercising outdoors a real challenge for the elderly and so, many of them do not feel comfortable to join the activities.

Our first visit to the neighborhood is about to happen! We will have first approach to this neighborhood and visit an Elderly Day Care Center to see the facilities and services they offer as well as the design problems that users face!

Next Monday 10 am in Usera station!

Meet you there!


UNI-Health Team