Vitoria-Gasteiz launches a project to involve citizens in renaturing the Medieval Quarter


Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council and the Centre for Environmental Studies (CEA by its Spanish acronym) have launched a project aimed at involving citizens in renaturing the Medieval Quarter, a neighbourhood in which residents only have 5 m2 of green areas per inhabitant, while people living in other areas of the city have between 14 and 20 m2.

The mayoress, Maider Etxebarria, referred to this situation of “inequality” when she presented the municipal administration’s plan to make the Medieval Quarter look “greener, more attractive and more welcoming” within the next few months. To this end, the neighbourhood is being asked to get involved in this “greening strategy” by helping to design and carry out several temporary actions from September onwards.

As in other European cities such as Grenoble or Antwerp, which have carried out similar experiments, our aim is to encourage residents to get involved in transforming their neighbourhood into a greener and healthier place”, explained Etxebarria.

The “Citizen Mobilisation Project to Renature the Medieval Quarter”, as the plan is called, consists of 2 phases. The first, which is already underway, is aimed at providing information to and mobilising the neighbourhood and the social agents in the neighbourhood, through a series of around twenty meetings, at which the CEA explains the project and encourages people to take part. The second phase will start after the summer with the implementation of the measures that come out of these meetings, which should have a significant visual and social impact.

The actions proposed include adorning streets with vegetation, installing flower pots and planters on balconies, ground floors and commercial premises, installing flower pots and planters on highly visible railings such as those in Los Arquillos and Plaza del Machete, and organising artistic events.

In terms of social aspects, there are plans for the sponsorship and patronage of community planters, ‘green corners’, mobile green walls and other elements that the neighbourhood residents will be responsible for taking care of.

The CEA has a budget of 35,000 euros to carry all this out, which will be used mainly to provide materials to residents.

While this greening strategy will create a striking visual effect, according to the mayoress, what is “really important” is that it will “strengthen our green credentials. If we are a Green Capital, we should make sure that we demonstrate this in all of our neighbourhoods, and it is clear that the Medieval Quarter has shortcomings in this area that we would like to resolve. It will also provide residents with better quality green spaces where they will be able to enjoy nature in the middle of an urban environment”.

The project will be completed in 2025. An evaluation will then be made and the results will be analysed to see if residents were truly involved and motivated in terms of implementing and sustaining the actions undertaken. The following steps will be determined based on this analysis.

Renaturing public spaces

This social programme aimed at greening the Medieval Quarter is linked to other renaturing actions being carried out by the City Council's Department of Public Spaces and Neighbourhoods, such as the refurbishment of Nueva Fuera and the Etxauri Gardens and Plaza de Martin Tittpia, and the Wall Garden and garden in Calle Correría.

In the same vein, the CEA will shortly be awarding the contract to draw up the project for greening the Cantón de las Carnicerías, with funds from the European Union's LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050 project. The intention is for this project to be followed by others that will renature the districts of Anorbin and Santa Ana and the Pasaje de San Pedro.