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The Ciudad Universitaria was conceived in 1927 as an integrated campus, where education, science and culture would harmoniously merge with each other. After eighty two years, The Moncloa Campus project endeavours to take the lead in responding to the challenges of the 21st century, namely knowledge and sustainable development.

This ambitious and at the same time realistic project is presented jointly by the Complutense and the Polytechnic Universities of Madrid, together with other partner institutions located in the Campus such as the CIEMAT, the CSIC and the INIA. Its main purpose is to transform the Campus of Moncloa into an international reference regarding research, education and innovation.

The project is structured as a collaborative agreement between the integrating institutions along the following strategic lines: to achieve scientific excellence and internationalization; to guarantee connectivity and integration; to make the Campus a sustainable system that will boost student employment and contribute to innovation and development. Our aim is to create a plural and participatory campus, fuelled by the transforming power of diversity, exchanges and dialogue; an efficient and transparently-governed university campus, open to all its members and to all its partner institutions, as well as to the interaction with the social, economic and cultural fabric.

The Campus commits itself to a specialization into six thematic clusters to achieve scientific and teaching excellence: Global Change and New Energies, Materials for the Future, Agro-food Industry and Health, Innovative Medicine, Heritage and Sustainable mobility. The distinctive strengths in each of them converge to create unique configurations marked by their innovative and interdisciplinary character, being not only highly competitive at the European level, but also capable of producing a significant progress in the transfer of knowledge.

Connectivity is the key element in the process of integration. The Campus provides for the interconnection between researchers and the institutions associated with each cluster with a coordinating structure of its own, as well as for the interdependence of the clusters by means of a general governing system.

The Campus, the people living in it and the City, all of them collectively incorporated in the urban area of Madrid, will be the main beneficiaries of this challenge. Moncloa can be defined as a sustainable, healthy and socially –committed campus. The projects includes specific actions focussed on the restoration of its landscape and its architectural and cultural heritage, as well as on its didactic potential and its use as leisure grounds for the citizens. It targets at an optimal energy use, a sustainable public transport, health improvement and coexistence. It intends to offer full access to handicapped people, to ensure protection against gender discrimination, to support talent, to give equal opportunities and to provide with development cooperation.

The Moncloa Campus incorporates a significant number of diverse institutions and is based on multi-disciplinarity and horizontality; it aims to attract students and researchers from all the world, with their particular languages and cultures, and it also has, as one of its main scientific objectives, the protection of the environment. In short, it is firmly committed to the project Diversity as Energy as an innovating and integrating scheme to achieve excellence and sustainable development.

Brief history


The Ciudad Universitaria has played a fundamental role in the development of the Northwest sector of Madrid. Its origins date back to a Royal Decree from 1927 when King Alfonso XIII took the initiative to launch the project. An independent committee was created for that purpose, with the architect Modesto López Otero as its technical supervisor. The plots of land in La Moncloa, which were the property of the Crown, were chosen as a suitable ground for the project and were subsequently granted by the King. The venture first began to take shape in 1911 when a commission was named to study the construction of a Clinical Hospital for Madrid, although it was not until 1927 that the project began to materialize.

First phase (1927-1930)

The first stage of the process which forms part of the history of the Ciudad Universitaria runs parallel to the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. It was then that the first proposals to manage the economic aspects of the project were laid out, together with the construction of several buildings, such as the one that housed the Fundación del Amo. The first phase began in 1928, when several architects were commissioned to design the faculties and schools for the Sciences and Medical Group complexes. In 1930, the architects appointed for the construction of the three faculties of the Medical Group were Agustín Aguirre and Mariano Garrigues for the Faculty of Pharmacy and Miguel Santos, who was selected for the design of the Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry. The funds to finance this ambitious project were raised from a specially commissioned drawing of the lottery on July 25th, 1928, together with grants from King Alfonso XIII, as well as contributions from several private donors, including Doctor Gregorio del Amo who was the promoter of the foundation which bears his name. The plan for the whole complex was completed in 1929; its director was the architect Modesto López Otero who conceived the Ciudad Universitaria as a unified whole, organically structured around distinct defining disciplines and integrating additional administrative units with the aim to make it an autonomous urban area. There are three core elements that make up for the university project: (1) the purely academic units or faculties, which in turn are structured into autonomous sub- units centered around their specialty, such as the scientific-medical faculties or those of Fine Arts; (2) the political-administrative units of management and representation, such as the Rectorate, the Auditorium and the Library and (3) the residential premises including residences for professors, dormitories and sports and leisure areas. The execution of this plan involved many phases and began with the basic groundwork. An important innovation in this work was the system established for heating and hot water supply. In order to provide the area with these resources and maintain its operating independence, a central thermal power station was designed to concentrate all the processes related to heating and hot water supply. This unit was assigned to the architect Manuel Sánchez Arcas and the engineer Eduardo Torroja in 1932. A specific committee, the "Junta de Construcción de la Ciudad Universitaria de Madrid" was created to spearhead and manage the construction of the area. This board operated from a pavilion which was planned by the same group that created the Central Power Station in 1930.

Second phase (1931-1936)

The second phase of the Ciudad Universitaria coincides with the Second Republic and is considered to be the most fruitful period in the actual development of the plan that was envisioned. While the project itself was not actually conceived during this period, it was then that the majority of the buildings of the Ciudad Universitaria were constructed. Thus, in 1932, as the works in the medical complex continued, the building of the Clinical Hospital was undertaken according to the plans of Sánchez Arcas and Torroja. In the same year, work on the Faculty of Philosophy and Liberal Arts started under the direction of Agustín Aguirre. In the following year, construction work began in the Science complex under the direction of De los Santos and Torroja as well as on the School of Architecture under the supervision of Pascual Bravo. In 1935, the building of the Student Residences, under the direction of Luis Lacasa, constitutes the last Republican project. The Faculty of Law, designed and signed in 1931 by Aguirre, did not materialize until after the Civil War.

Third phase (1939-1943)

The third phase of the Ciudad Universitaria coincides with the Post- Civil War period and is associated more with "reconstruction" or revision of pending work than with the development of new projects. In 1940 a law was passed with the aim of constituting a new committee for the Ciudad Universitaria and López Otero and Pedro Muguruza were named directing architects of the work to be carried out. In a way, López Otero's presence assured that the original guidelines were followed regarding the general plan of the area, even though they were to be modified and adapted to the requirements of the new political system. As an example of the first steps which tended toward the "reconstruction" of the Ciudad Universitaria, a scale model was presented that included not only the buildings that already existed, but also those which were expected to be built in the future. One of the new buildings, which appeared in the model mentioned above, was the main Auditorium (Paraninfo). Its location coincides with the running track situated at the end of the main avenue, in the space enclosed by the Science complex and the Liberal Arts complex. The building which, ultimately, was not constructed had been conceived by López Otero in 1943 "as a classic temple with modern lines." The temple closed off a large space that included an arch with allegorical paintings related to Spanish science and whose front was designed "in the form of a large atrium with portico which was conceived as a place for parties or student gatherings." The construction of the schools of Forestry and Naval Engineering started in 1942, and was followed by that of the Residences for Professors in Isaac Peral Street, the Government Pavillion, and the Museum of America, designed by Luis Moya and Luis Martínez-Feduchi. Moreover, the Faculty of Law started to be built after a new project by Aguirre, following the model of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters nearby. In this period there was still a unity of concept regarding the development of the "idea" of the Ciudad Universitaria and the scale model cited above set the guidelines to follow. A special committee was responsible for managing these guidelines and although it was organized similarly to the one from former periods, it hardly lasted more than a decade.

Uncontrolled growth

During the 1960's, the entire unity of the group was broken and the idea of a collective scheme prepared on the basis of a single estate management unit was abandoned in favor of individualism, both in the professional and academic sense. Each educational building was conceived of as an independent element, disconnected formally and linguistically from the rest, and only maintaining a relation imposed by the existing infrastructures. This may have been a reflection of the mindset that students were "confined" within the limits of their own scientific specialization.

In the following years, a large amount of land was provided for new buildings used for other than strictly university purposes, although they were linked in some way to research and teaching. In addition, more plots were provided to build dormitories that would house students sharing a common background, such as their place of origin or the institution that supported them. From this point of view, the Ciudad Universitaria, like many other privileged areas of Madrid, had to serve as a showcase for the most relevant architecture of the period, where the most brilliant Spanish professionals had to leave their imprint and where all of them created memorable buildings.

The most noteworthy architects and buildings from this period include Miguel Fisac's Training Center for Professors; José María García de Paredes and Rafael de la Hoz' "Aquinas" dormitory that received the National Architecture Award, Alfonso D'Escragnolle's Brazil House, and Javier Carvajal's School of Engineering and Telecommunication which was designed with García de Paredes, and Carvajal's Library for the Faculty of Law. Other noteworthy buildings include Asís Cabrero's "San Agustín" dormitory, Luis Laorga and José López Zanón's Civil Engineering School; Antonio Fernández-Alba and José Luis Fernández del Amo's Library for the Institute of Spanish Culture; and Horacio Baliero and Carmen Córdova's dormitory for Argentinean students called "Nuestra Señora de Luján". This list also includes Fernando Moreno Barberá's Faculty for Biological and Geological Sciences and the complex for the Ministry of Education and Science, and Fernando Higueras and Antonio Miró's Center for Artistic Restoration which is currently the Spanish Heritage Institute. Furthermore, Alejandro de la Sota is noted for the "César Carlos" dormitory and with José Antonio López Candeira is also responsible for the expansion of CENIM. Finally, Juan de Haro designed the student residence "Siao-Sin" while the architects Jaime López Asiaín and Ángel Díaz are responsible for the Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art which today house Museum of Fashion, among many other buildings.

From 1980 onwards, several Special Reform Plans affecting the whole of the Ciudad Universitaria were drafted in order to establish an urban design for the area and limit uncontrolled growth.

Several tentative projects in planning and other documents that had not been executed were provisionally approved so as not to prevent the Ciudad Universitaria from expanding. From this period, the architects and buildings which are noteworthy include José Santos' Humanities Library, José Ignacio Linazasoro's Animal Hospital and its library and the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Business Administration and the Faculty of Psychology for the UNED. In addition, Juan José Medina constructed the High Performance Sports Swimming Complex which won the Architectural Award from the City of Madrid.

The works for the project culminated with two major events: in 1999, the Regional Government of Madrid declared the Ciudad Universitaria Site of Cultural Interest in the category of historical areas and in 2000, the Madrid city government approved a Special Plan for the Ciudad Universitaria. Since then, for the first time in many years, new buildings have been constructed and a unified project has been developed. The most important buildings and architects from this period include Javier Sáenz Guerra and Zacarías González' expansion of the Faculties of Law and Philosophy and Javier Sanjuán and Javier Fresneda's expansion of the Faculty of Pharmacy. Yet to be built is the most significant and emblematic piece of the Ciudad Universitaria since its inception, the Main Auditorium (Paraninfo), which when undertaken will fill a mend a historical gap. After numerous proposals from the director of the technical department of the Construction Commission, the architect Modesto López Otero, the Special Plan will include the development of a building according to the original design that will integrate the activities of university life with those of the city, attract those living in the city to the university's premises and connect the Ciudad Universitaria with Madrid.


Ministry of Education, Culture & Sports CEI Campus of International Excellence Ministry of Economy & Competitiveness
Funded project by the Ministry of Education, Culture & Sports, and the Ministry of Economy & Competitiveness within the framework of the Campus of International Excellence
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