1. What makes you happy in this city?

Local

The streets of Madrid are well known for their hustle and bustle. You can always find something to do and enjoy at street level, but if you look up you will find the famous Madrid sky. Its light is an inspiration for many artists and a source of life for all locals. Above our heads, over the shops and buildings, there is an authentic treasure. In Alcalá Street, you will find fabulous images that defy the horizon: classical sculptures that contrast with the rooftops of Madrid. The special light illuminating them and the famous, blue Madrid sky bring me joy every day.

Visitor

The sun shines year-round in Madrid. Even during winter-time there are lots of sunny days. When you get up in the morning the day welcomes you with a blue sky and a beautiful sun. The play of light and shadow is characteristic of Madrid. Each day with it’s strong shadows leaves it’s own mark on the facades and streets. Watching the day progress by following the movement of the shadows makes me happy in Madrid.

2. WHAT INSPIRES YOU IN THIS CITY?

Local

Away from the touristy neighborhoods of central Madrid stands “Torres Blancas” (White Towers). Built in the early 60´s, it was meant to be a high-rise residential building that was unique, and grew organically–like a tree, crossed vertically by staircases, lifts and facilities, like the vessels of the tree. Its curved terraces are grouped as if they were leaves on branches. It is completely different from anything else in the neighborhood. Displayed in the image to the left is the tower at the Catholic school where I studied for 14 years, since I was five years old. When I was a little kid, I would see this image each time I finished class, making me dream of other worlds.

Visitor

Coming from a minimalist form-follows-function background in Germany, I’m always inspired by the playfulness seen in decorative elements and the exaggerations that surround you in Madrid. The motto seems to be “more is more” instead of “less is more”. Madrid is full of eye-candy, not only on the shady, narrow alleys, but also on the bright shopping boulevards as you can see in the photo of a Gran Via shop window.

3. WHAT WORKS FOR YOU VERY WELL IN THE CITY?

Local

When fashion turns away from the runways and when art leaves the museums and walks down the street is when these media become real. People who walk the streets of Madrid become improvised models wearing and adapting what a few months earlier we saw on the runways. Pieces by young artists can be found on any corner, reflecting constantly changing trends and styles. Madrid dwellers like to look and to be looked at…

Visitor

Madrid has a very lively center, and everything is within walking distance: museums, shops, parks, bars, clubs. The Madrileños love to be on the streets, and even though it gets really busy, there’s still this relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere. I am not a big fan of crowded places, but in Madrid I enjoy merging into the street and its flow.

4. WHAT WOULD YOU DO BETTER?

Local

Strolling around the up-and-coming Malasaña area, situated right next to famous Gran Via, you may bump into some architectural impediments, making it hard for wheelchairs or baby carriages to access this wonderful neighborhood. Two concrete steps span the length of the Santa Maria Torres Acosta square and make it impossible for many people to cross.

Visitor

At the lower end of Gran Via, right on Plaza de España, are two very emblematic buildings constructed from the late ’40s until the end of the ’50s. Unfortunately, the huge Edificio España has remained abandoned since 2006 and the white Torre de Madrid is only at half occupancy. As a result, the nice and lively Plaza de España is framed by two beautiful-yet-dead buildings.

5. HOW WOULD YOU DO IT BETTER?

Local

It would be nice to wake up the empty rooms of the two emblematic buildings on Plaza de España and fill them with life; the city could sponsor start-ups, small theaters, studios, rehearsal facilities, etc by giving them space there. Then at night you would suddenly find the buildings illuminated from the inside, bringing back light and life to the whole area.

Visitor

Even though the Malasaña is the new place to be, it is also a place to live; many older people are still part of the community in this area. The best way to create access for people who can’t climb stairs would be ramps. That way everybody would be able to participate in the quarter’s life.