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Madrid makes you feel at home

2010. 8 March

( For the first time in the history of Universal Exhibitions, a select group of cities has been chosen to take part.

In World Expo 2010 Shanghai, quality of life is the central theme. Madrid, as the third leading European metropolis, capital of southern Europe, and center of economic, political and cultural power in Spain and Latin America, has been chosen to have its own pavilion. The reason: the urban transformation it has undergone has been classified as exemplary by bodies such as the Expo 2010 Selection Committee. It is a best-practices model that can be copied and exported.

In addition, Madrid's international positioning is well known. It is evident in studies on the quality of its infrastructures and users' experience: and therefore it's time to show the world all the good things that Madrid has to offer.

One city, 2 structures

Madrid is the only city in Expo 2010 Shanghai to have a pavilion made up of two existing buildings, the Bamboo House - a replica of a state-subsidized housing - and the Air Tree - a replica of the bioclimatic trees that make up the Eco-Boulevard, a public area.

Both are examples of urban ecology, since both were created taking into account the environment and improvement in the quality of life of their users. And both have received premier awards from the world of architecture (the Bamboo House won the RIBA award and the bioclimatic trees the award from the Architectural Review magazine).

Moreover, both are examples of accessible urban and human sustainability that don't need excessively complex or expensive technology to be effective, efficient and functional (the Bamboo House's "skin" provides heat insulation and soundproofs the flats, thereby saving on electricity).

Furthermore, both structures are real examples already lived in and experienced by their inhabitants, and that is what Madrid wants to take to Shanghai, something that has already been carried out, something done in the present to improve the future.

Both are examples of the city's recent transformation, which can serve as a reference to other cities which, like Madrid, are working toward achieving the Expo ideal: "Better City, Better Life."

Madrid your home

Madrid isn't complete without life in its streets, life in its public spaces. The Bamboo House and the Air Tree together are like a house and the square beside it or the garden through which people stroll. They transmit this part of life in the city, this balance between life inside the home, during people's free time, and life outside, when they are working or out and about with friends.

Historically, Madrid has been the Main Square of the Latin American world, and being the only Latin American city to have its own pavilion, the space around the Air Tree just like any square in Madrid, will be a meeting place and point of coexistence of different countries and cultures.

Madrid's claim in World Expo Shanghai is "Madrid is your home," making reference to this sense of home making, that the city clearly exudes.

Much on offer

On the one hand, Madrid has previously had to face the effects of accelerated urban development, a global economy that demanded a high degree of specialization and, it has seen the AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) sector grow and develop.

All of this has had repercussions on the city model Madrid has constructed for itself, and it is an easily exportable model, which has already shown its ability to take on these challenges. Madrid is an economically dynamic place in business sectors that are important for China.

On the other hand, China is experiencing some of the effects of the rapid urban development processes itself, including a growing fleet of vehicles, which brings with it congestion, infra-capacity of the infrastructures and urban services, and environmental challenges.

In this context, China is demanding technical experience in AEC that includes all-round urban solutions and the ability to carry them out. One of Madrid's strengths is no doubt the fact that it is the venue of research centers and top companies in renewable energy, engineering and construction worldwide.

Some of the most spectacular advances in renewable energy have originated in Madrid. This city is technologically the birthplace of wind power and solar heating.

Consequently, what is being presented by Madrid in Expo 2010 is an example of a transformed city run under a public management model. It takes the form of a block of flats and a public space (the minimum unit in a city), applying sustainable architecture criteria and incorporating renewable energy criteria in the architecture. And more important, it is a management model to export.

After Expo

World Expo Shanghai doesn't end with the closing ceremony on October 31. Shanghai 2010 is the platform, but afterwards Madrid will continue working on maintaining the relations established with China and the world.

That's why, at the end of this experience, the Bamboo House and the Air Tree will remain in Shanghai as part of Madrid's legacy. It's a way of showing the city's interest in establishing long-lasting relations with Shanghai and with China.

You can only love what you know and Madrid wants to be known through all its agents: institutions, companies, citizens. The Foundation Madrid Ciudad Global 2010, under the supervision of the City of Madrid Mayor's Office, is in charge of managing the facilities and contents of the Madrid Pavilion in Shanghai 2010, and organizing artistic, cultural and scientific activities to internationally promote and broadcast the image of Madrid.

To give you just a taste of all things to come, eight weeks prior to the beginning of World Expo 2010 Shanghai on May 1, Madrid will open an exhibition at the Expo Shanghai Exhibition Center, from March 8-14. You are all are invited to go and see why Madrid is your home.

Special Report:Shanghai Expo 2010 >>