Entrepatios Madrid

Text by Anna Pozzi
Photos by Bruno Zanzottera/Parallelozero
Abridged by Syharn Shen (沈思含)

Entrepatios Madrid

Text by Anna Pozzi
Photos by Bruno Zanzottera/Parallelozero
Abridged by Syharn Shen (沈思含)

In Usera district of Madrid's southern suburbs, the Las Carolinas Entrepatios project is a unique cohousing community with 17 families embracing sustainable living, resource sharing, and collective support.

Las Carolinas building in Usera, a working-class neighborhood in Madrid's southern suburbs, is home to 17 families from the Entrepatios housing cooperative.

Las Carolinas Entrepatios in Madrid's Usera district is a pioneering venture in collective ownership and sustainable living, taking nearly 20 years to realize. This energy-efficient building, running on 100% renewable energy with zero carbon emissions, has received recognition with the Low Carbon Prize and the European Collaborative Housing Awards. The Entrepatios cooperative, consisting of 17 family units, shares ownership of the building—a hybrid of owning and renting, where no one can sell their space.

The project, which welcomed inhabitants during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, houses around 30 adults and 20 children who have embraced the concept of ecologically sound and socially inclusive cohabitation. The cohousing model emphasizes shared spaces and responsibilities, fostering a tight-knit community that counters the conventional urban ethos of individualism.

One of the masterminds of this initiative is Iñaki Alonso, an architect deeply invested in ecological building practices. Alonso, together with sAtt and Tecnica Eco studios, designed the building that focuses on environmental sustainability and social issues. "This project is an example of architecture serving people, constructing not just a building, but a community of neighbors," he said. "It's a dream come true. While we each have our own private spaces, here we try to live not in a house but in an open and collaborative community."

Iñaki Alonso, one of the architects who designed Las Carolinas building, lives with 16 other families from the Entrepatios housing cooperative. Here, he is in his home working on a project.

Children have taken to this lifestyle most readily, making use of communal areas for play and social activities. The cooperative's rhythm of life includes shared childcare, musical evenings, and general assemblies, fostering an environment of mutual support.

Nacho Garcia Pedraza, a foundational member of the project, recalls the initial struggles to secure land from the municipality back in 2004. "After the second failure, but also after gaining more experience, we founded the Entrepatios cooperative and started this third attempt, which was successful." Now, the community also aims to inspire and support similar initiatives, challenging the traditional capitalist framework of home ownership.

The eco-friendly approach is embodied by residents like Luis Rico, coordinator of Ecologistas en Acción, who underscores the interconnectedness of social and environmental solutions. This approach is manifested in the building's daily operations—organic purchasing groups, communal tasks, and energy-saving measures that have a direct, positive impact on living costs.

Marta Martínez Rodríguez, Rico's partner, views their lifestyle as a conscious choice for egalitarian and altruistic neighbor relations. Similarly, engineer and musician Maykel Moya values the sense of community, particularly important for someone who migrated from Cuba and found a new familial network in this setting. Moya contributes his technical expertise to the collective by managing the Internet, solar energy systems, and water recycling.

Maykel Moya, a Cuban inhabitant at Las Carolinas building, lives here with his wife and two children. As a drummer and music enthusiast, he introduced to the community a weekly musical session for people to play instruments or come together to relax.

For the oldest members of Las Carolinas Nati Garcia and Jose Lopez, 67 and 68 respectively, the experience embodies their ideal of community living, where conflicts are navigated with a communal mentality. The spirit of Entrepatios is spreading to a new building in Vallecas, where inhabitants are laying the groundwork for another such community despite bureaucratic hurdles and the continual labor of nurturing communal bonds. Another third project is also in the early stages of development.

Las Carolinas' residents are eager to share the sense of community, opening up to the neighborhood through events and initiatives, aiming to create a vast "common house" that transcends physical and societal walls.

The residents of Las Carolinas building hold a birthday party in the common spaces. To share their communal spirit with other neighbors, they have also held a street party.

Contact Us | Plan a Visit | Donate

8 Lide Road, Beitou 11259, Taipei, Taiwan

©Tzu Chi Culture and Communication Foundation
All rights reserved.