Medialab Prado


Madrid Urban Laboratory. Call for Projects

Infrastructures, practices and tools to rethink the shared life

Collaborative prototype workshop and international symposium

Madrid Urban Laboratory seeks to explore the relationships between the city, digital culture and the common good through a programme that includes a collaborative production workshop and a series of conferences and debates, in which international and local experts will be invited to examine the meaning of the common good and digital culture within the context of the evolving city.

The call for project submissions is finished

> Dates
> Introduction
> Context
> Call for project submissions
> How the workshop will be run
> Commitments of those selected
> Project assessment criteria
> Open Data Portal of the Madrid City Council

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  • 28 May-1 June: first stage of the workshop
  • 1-2 October: international symposium
  • 3-5 October: second stage of the workshop

Advisers: Juan Freire, Antonio Lafuente and José Luis de Vicente


Madrid Urban Laboratory seeks to explore the relationships between the city, digital culture and the common good via a programme that includes:
  • A collaborative production workshop, based on local projects currently underway to design and prototype new tools, platforms and actions. The workshop will follow the usual Medialab-Prado methodology: open call for submissions, registration of interested collaborators, formation of interdisciplinary work groups and prototype development supported by enablers and advisers from a number of fields.
  • A series of conferences and debates involving international guests and local projects, examining the significance of the common good and digital culture within the context of the evolving city.


(Text by Juan Freire)

We live in turbulent times, where financial turmoil converges with transformation, the obsolescence of a range of social, political and economic values and practices, and the chaotic emergence of new practices that are laying the foundations for fresh models. The city is undoubtedly the main arena where this process is taking place. Madrid has developed into an unplanned laboratory for citizen projects of all kinds, exploring the possibilities and boundaries of our new social culture, in particular the open/free culture as a means of configuring public spaces and the resulting social, economic and political relationships.

In Madrid we encounter a range of social movements that are standard bearers for a number of demands; amateur and professional groups using action to investigate the public space and public engagement, as well as diverse public laboratories that bring together communities who, through action, reflect on the city or economics. And all this is happening while public and private operators, government and businesses, seek to understand their raisons d'être, and in some cases seek to transform themselves, either through necessity or opportunity, into platforms for creating communities, or to insert themselves into existing communities.

If there is one thing that characterises this process, it is its apparent, and possibly real, chaos: the difficulty of grasping the deeper significance of these movements and understanding their ultimate causes. Of course, the medium and long-term consequences are even less predictable. The result is a mixture of contrasting emotions, ranging from panic and a feeling of hopelessness to excitement over the prospect of real change. All of us are involved in this clash of emotions: agents of the old establishment and activists behind what might be the new system; the marginalised and the decision-makers...

If anything might be able to bring cohesion and some sense to what is happening, it may be the very concept of the common good. We are now rediscovering the power of what lies, to use a negative definition, between the public and private spheres. That enormous space where we live out our lives, and which for decades was censored and was thought to not exist. Only by naming and understanding that space can we begin to grasp the emerging phenomena. And only by understanding what the common good is and how it works can we comprehend the chaos that is generated by a complex, diverse and sophisticated system of governance, which bears little relation to traditional political and corporate systems.

The other concept that may help us to understand our present scenario is that of digital culture. Technology has empowered us by establishing an infrastructure of basic knowledge and relationships. But its role is not only instrumental, as important as it may be. For decades communities have been actively working with technology, consolidating new practices and values that until recently were considered marginal and perhaps even dangerous. But now openness, transparency and collaboration are watchwords for those seeking to embrace institutions, as well as for companies that want to join or even co-opt, for better or for worse, this new reality.

Madrid as a laboratory

Madrid is an excellent example of a juncture between the city, digital culture and the common good. It represents an emerging laboratory of public innovation and governance. Medialab Prado supports this exploration, establishing itself as one of the city's community generators, as well as itself reflecting the contradictions and opportunities so characteristic of the current scenario, as a public initiative that represents a laboratory of the common good, housing communities of amateurs and professionals alike.

The international Madrid Urban Laboratory initiative seeks to explore the relationships between the city and the common good, employing the focus and methods used in recent years by the projects Interactivos? and Visualizar. What can Medialab bring to an issue that is already extensively developed in the city of Madrid? Madrid Urban Laboratory seeks to explore the relationships between the city, digital culture and the common good via a programme that includes a collaborative production workshop and a series of conferences and debates in which international and local guests examine the meaning of the common good and digital culture within the context of the evolving city. The aim is to create synergies between existing initiatives and to reflect on the consequences of such processes.


Call for project submissions

Deadline for submissions: 8 May

The programme and the call for submissions are structured into three themed sections:

  • Public space and open infrastructure
  • Open infrastructure for mobility, energy management and consumption, public telecommunications networks, alternative public information networks, etc.          
  • Bringing back the Agora - new uses for public spaces by citizen groups       
  • Building cities based on the ephemeral and transitory: pop-up logic, tactical urban planning, temporary autonomous zones, games in public spaces. 
  • Urban economies of the common good: time bank, urban vegetable gardens, bartering networks, etc. 
  • Stories and memories of the city as a common good     
  • Inclusive City:            
  • Diseño inclusivo de los entornos urbanos, accesibilidad, diversidad funcional.
  • Childhood and the city          
  • The elderly and the city
  • Citizen science
  • Networks of citizen collaboration and knowledge in the local setting    
  • Data gathering and distributed analysis
  • Technological development of low-cost hardware and software, based on free licensing and open-source systems for citizen science projects    

Of the submitted projects, a maximum of 15 will be selected for development in the workshops, which will be held in two phases: 28 May-1 June and 1-5 October.

All those submitting projects must be open to collaboration with other interested parties, in order to develop the same at the workshops.

Initiatives may be submitted individually or collectively. Each participant or team may enter as may submissions as they wish.

Once the ideas have been selected, a registration period will open for those who want to take part as collaborators in each. The registration period for collaborators will open on 13 May via the Medialab-Prado website.


How the workshop will be run

  • The selected projects and the open call for collaborators will be published on 13 May.
  • The first stage of the workshop will run from 28 May-1 June: all projects and work team collaborators will meet to discuss their projects as a group, along with the advisers. Development of the same will then get underway.
  • During June and September the work groups will be able to meet as and when they wish at Medialab-Prado to continue project development,
  • The theoretical debate seminar (1 and 2) will be held from 1-5 October, with the groups then continuing development of their projects with the support of the advisers until a prototype is presented on the final day.

The ideas will be tested during the workshops, with prototypes developed in interdisciplinary groups made up of the collaborators and coordinated by the project developer. The groups will benefit from support and advice from guest technicians and professors, and will have access to all the space, equipment and materials that they need to develop their projects.

While the most intensive workshop periods come in May and October, when all the teams will be working side by side, the groups may also work independently using the Medialab-Prado space during the months of July and September.

We assume that any work done in the workshop will use free and open software, that the projects will be based on open standards and that the results will be available under licensing that allows re-appropriation, reuse and distribution of the same.

The workshops will be run in English and Spanish, with no formal translation provided.

The workshops are mainly aimed at projects and collaborators based in Madrid. Should projects or collaborators not based on Madrid take part, each participant will have to cover their own travel and accommodation costs.


Commitments of those selected

  • The selected individuals and groups agree to attend every day of the workshops.
  • Likewise, they agree to complete and adequately document their submitted projects..
  • The selected projects must accept and encourage participation from interested individuals.  
  • The project credits will detail the involvement of each team member and their role at the workshops.
  • The organisation encourages and supports the use of free programmes when developing projects, as well as the results of the same being made free to use via open licensing.


Project assessment criteria

  • Relevance to the general programme objectives.
  • How innovative and experimental they are.
  • The clarity of the project and its suitability for the workshop methodology and time frame (the aim is to have a prototype ready by the end of the workshop. Submissions must indicate which parts of the project may be prototyped within said time frame and which cannot).
  • Use of open-source tools and licensing that allows free access to procedures and results.
  • Projects that take as a basis any initiatives, groups or communities that are already active in the city of Madrid will be preferred.


Open Data Portal of the Madrid City Council

Madrid City Council is making the Open Data Portal ( available for use during the event Madrid Urban Laboratory.

For the current information society, the most important thing is to be able to get data in order to be able to build new commercial, non-commercial, educational and research products and services. In this context, we are providing the Open Data Portal for its possible use by any workshop within this event. On this portal, there are 98 data groups, with over 175 different files that can be obtained and downloaded, with information on the City. Amongst these, there are data groups with information on the environment, traffic, economy and trade, culture, urban development, transport, diverse kinds of city facilities, etc.

Madrid City Council is available to help solve any doubts that may arise when using the data, and also to use the portal to promote the resulting initiatives of appropriate quality.

For further information and any queries: talleres(at) 


With the collaboration of Obra Social "la Caixa"

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Studiolab is a project funded by the European Commission. The views and opinions here expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the European Community and the Community is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.
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