International Summer School ‘Planning for the Post-Speculative City’


Planning for the Post-Speculative City
13-20 July 2014
Madrid, Spain

On September 20, 2013 the last session of Planning Strategies for the Post-Speculative City Summer Course took place at the venues of San Pablo CEU Polytechnic School (EPS) in Madrid. By presenting the final results of their respective workshops, the young participants showed, once more, a great deal of plasticity to cope with a given problem, regardless of different languages, different academic profiles and backgrounds, and even different ways of understanding reality.

At that closing session one of the participants raised an issue which was unanimously supported: the need to understand their professional role as planners in the uncertain context of today’s cities, affected by multidimensional processes in constant change.

Two more aspects increase the problems to comprehend and define the contemporary role of the planner: the difficulty of apprehending the urban and territorial dynamics in a holistic way, due to the partial vision consequential of the different academic degrees dealing with planning issues, as well as the lack of knowledge of the planning tools needed to address current urban complexity.

Urged by these questions the Area of Urban & Regional Planning at EPS reedits the course under the motto Planning for the Post-Speculative City. It is our purpose to approach an answer to the unquestionable fact that reality moves between past and present, between the still dominant urbanism of the modern era, and the current urban planning which operates between opportunities and possibilities. We, planners, are living a transitional period that requires the consolidation of the technical and conceptual supports of a new kind of urbanism.

How to deal with urban planning in the postmodern context, in which economic, social and political instability does not ensure the development of urban proposals in the long term?, how to overcome the existing knowledge and the administrative structures inherited from the 20th century? How to develop complex projects where creativity, new techniques and new knowledge should prevail? How to go beyond the regulatory mandates on landownership to promote the participatory processes required for the city governance in the sustainable era?

These questions imperatively demand new answers for students and young planners, approaching a wider look to deal with urban reality, beyond the current theory and practice, closer to strategic actions and implementation.

Our goals as the course organisers are several: opening new windows of knowledge, offering local urban scenarios to think about and to propose new alternatives, and giving room for the interchange of experiences among participants, tutors and lecturers.

Teresa Franchini & Juan Arana, course director
Urban and Regional Planning Department
CEU Polytechnic School


At a time of abrupt changes, when the old urban models are quickly becoming obsolete and inefficient, there is an opportunity to look into the future to envisage new planning actions. There is a need to bring into question the existing model of urban growth, working from the present situation towards new theoretical and practical visions to recycle our cities. This is the chance to put forward proposals that challenge the uncontrolled urban growth, to review the situation of the new suburban territories, and to regenerate the consolidated fabric of the inner city.

Instead of lame, simplistic, speculation driven solutions we need a multiple and diverse urbanism, capable to adapt to complex situations. New strategies may include reusing the city, rethinking the territory, generating activity, diversity, complexity and density and above all, enhancing citizen´s participation in the city making.

Why Madrid
The burst of the housing bubble in Spain has triggered a deep crisis regarding the city as project. Latent problems, such as the lack of a territorial model, the unsustainability of urban projects, the precariousness and the urban poverty, have emerged. The economic crisis and the different administrative problems have left behind ghost cities and abandoned extra-large urban projects.

All these aspects were in the midst of the debate over flexibility in urban planning that give rise to the recently approved Madrid Master Plan. The need of a coherent territorial model for the capital city, centre of an extended  metropolitan region, has become crucial. Issues such as suburban growth, mobility, landscape and natural resources, urban legislation, administrative managerial capacity, pose new challenges and raise important questions about the sustainability of the current city model. The central proposals of this new planning tool focus on resolving these issues.

Working Scales
Participants will explore the possibilities of spatial planning in order to deal with the present day challenges affecting European cities within a context of deep economic crisis. Taking Madrid as a case study, the current urban problems are evident at least in three urban situations:

Inner fabrics. After decades of urban improvement, the central area still keeps some patches of urban deprivation for which regeneration projects aiming to improve the existing conditions are needed. We propose a reflection on the problems and the possibilities to intervene in the consolidated city ¿What kind of new planning actions can be implemented? ¿ How to preserve the complexity and social mix once the existing living conditions are improved? Urban voids. Empty or underused areas within the compact city are requiring planning references and urban design proposals to allocate strategic urban demands. The next development of the city will take place within its limits, but the time for the grand urban projects seems to be over. The idea is to locate potential sites of urban interest and work with them ¿Can we envision new approaches for the urban design of our cities, at the same time sustainable, exciting and responsible? ¿Can we change the city from within?

Border areas. The construction boom in Madrid took shape in a number of urban projects in the outskirts of the city. Often oversized and with deficient urban spaces, these projects remain in some cases uncompleted or largely  uninhabited. In other cases, they are just enormous vacant lands which raise big question marks about the future of the city. We propose to work, reflect and develop strategies against the backdrop of these territories: ¿How can we work with the reality of these failed urban fragments? ¿How can we deal with these no-man´s lands that lie amidst a waste of infrastructures, new housing developments and old neighbourhoods?

PARTICIPANTS: The course is oriented to young planning professionals and final year students of related disciplines.

FORMAT: Based on the case of the city of Madrid, the course aims to recognize the economic, cultural, social and environmental assets and shortcomings of the recent urban planning practice in Europe, and to identify new planning visions for contemporary cities.
To meet this double objective the course will review conceptual approaches and practical instruments. The conceptual approach will be leading by lecturers and tutors. The practical approach will give to the young professionals the opportunity to apply their knowledge producing planning and design proposals for selected urban pieces of special interest.

VENUE: Events take place at the EPS, which has appropriate facilities for lectures and workshops, working spaces and internet access, among other facilities.


REGISTRATION: Open registration:

TIMELINE: Launch of the call for participants: April 01

Inscription deadline: May 30

More information can be found on the Planning for Post-Speculative Cities website or in the Course Brochure.

Skip to toolbar