Thursday, October 26, 2023

Why the Spanish Like Vertical Living

Spaniards like living in apartments. In fact Spain has one of the highest percentages of apartment dwellers in the world. Only in South Korea do more people live in collective dwellings. There are historical reasons why so many Spaniards live in apartment buildings.

You can learn more about the historical causes of Spain's vertical living in El Diario's story map Spain lives in flats: why we have built our cities vertically. This map uses colored 3D buildings to visualize the height of buildings in Spanish cities (green buildings have the fewest floors and pink buildings are the tallest). As you scroll through the map El Diario takes you on an historical tour of Spain's residential building trends, explaining the historical reasons behind the construction of such a high number of apartment blocks in Spain.

As a huge supporter of vertical living, particularly in highly populated cities, I'm not exactly pleased to learn that one of the main historical reasons for Spain's high percentage of apartment living is the fascist dictator Franco. Apparently "between 1950 and 1975, thousands of Spaniards migrated from the countryside to the city". In order to accommodate the growing urban population Franco's government built high-rise housing estates.

At the end of 'Spain Lives in Flats' El Diario links to another of their interactive maps. This No. de Plantas Sobre Rasante map allows you to explore the differences in building heights that can be found in different Spanish cities. The El Diario article introducing this map, The map of the heights of all the buildings in Spain, includes a fascinating analysis of the urban landscapes found in ten Spanish cities. For example the map of Toledo reveals that the medieval center of the city is dominated by historical buildings and that all the modern buildings have been restricted to a similar height.

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