Evolving Neighborhoods in Madrid Farah, nuri, regina

Chueca by Farah Bhiku

Chueca is the neighborhood where our hotel was located and it is also the LGBTQ neighborhood of Madrid. When we first arrived it looked like any other Spaniard neighborhood full of Spanish restaurants but as we started exploring more we found out that was not true. Of course, the neighborhood has the traditional mercados. We went to Mercado de San Anton which was divided into 4 floors. The first one was a supermarket, the second one was more like a farmers market where there were different sections depending on the product type. For example, there was a stall for vegetables another for meats another for pork and so on. The third floor had a lot of mini restaurants all serving food from many different cuisines and the fourth floor was a formal restaurant that included indoor seating as well as seating in their rooftop terrace. This is where I saw how progressive this neighborhood was getting. In the rooftop terrace the people had their own mini garden of spices (basil, oregano, rosemary, etc...) which they grew in there to use in their food. This is an example of sustainability and how this trend of being self-sufficient is starting to get executed all around the world.

Chueca was one of the only neighborhoods where I saw a lot of vegetarian/vegan cuisines. This is a new trend in which people are now becoming more conscious of what they eat and thus shift to new eating habits. The fact that there are so many vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Chueca is an example of how this neighborhood is starting to adopt new trends instead of staying with the traditional Spanish cuisines. For example I went to an ice cream shop where the ice cream was made from all natural ingredients and no preservatives.

Chueca was the neighborhood where I saw the most variety of cuisines. Restaurants included a Mozzarella Bar, Wok Kitchen, Fusion Sushi/Japanese, an American Diner style restaurant, Chinese Restaurants, Kebab Restaurants (Lebanese), etc... Of course there were traditional Spanish restaurants as well but this deviation from the norm and including different cuisines not known to Spanish culture furthers the statement that Chueca isa progressive neighborhood driven towards creativity and new things. They want to break out from the ordinary and merge with foreign cultures.

Another interesting fact about food is a restaurant I saw called "Mitte". The whole purpose of the restaurant was to eat art. This is a very new way of serving food, the goal is to bring your dish decorated and in a way that looks more like are and less like food. This is a whole dining experience as people go to these places because of the experience than just to eat food. This is the only restaurant I saw that served food as art in Madrid and it honestly impressed because I would have never imagined seeing this type of restaurant in Madrid. This is taking food to a whole new level, something that is really new and shows creativity and a need for new ideas. Another creative way for serving food was in a breakfast restaurant that instead of bringing the butter in the tradition way, the restaurant served the butter in a big bucket with "spoons" made of wood sticks.

To add on to Farah - By Nuri

So, I went to a restaurant near our hotel. They gave me butter in a huge bucket, which was an interesting way to serve food. I found that many restaurants have unique ways to be eye catching to not only to tourists but also to locals. Because Spaniards do not usually hang out in their houses, their social activities occur in restaurants. Thus, many restaurants were focusing on providing the experience and new ways to engage the customers.

Uncommon Store Positioning by Regina Pranata

During our trip in Madrid, I noticed a very uncommon trend of store positioning. I found three restaurants in the Salamanca area that were placed next to pharmacies. Coming from an Asian culture, I grew up with many Chinese traditions. One of them is Feng Shui. By definition, Feng Shui is a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy (qi), and whose favorable or unfavorable effects are taken into account when siting and designing buildings.

Left: Restaurant next to a Pharmacy in Salamanca, Right: Franchise Supermarket in Lavapies

According to Feng Shui that is practiced in Indonesia, placing a restaurant next to a pharmacy is considered to be taboo. Although, this rule is not explicitly apparent in the society, almost all of the Chinese-Indonesian have an implicit understanding about this rule. Therefore, when I saw this trend in Madrid, I was really surprised. In Indonesia, people are not supposed to place a restaurant next to a pharmacy because both places give extremely different emotions and energies.

A restaurant is considered to be a place that creates joy and high energy. This is because restaurant in Chinese culture is a place where families spend their time the most. In contrast, a pharmacy evokes the feeling of sadness because it is usually associated with sickness. Thus, it produces a very low energy. Therefore, having both restaurant and pharmacy next to each other is not acceptable as it generates very contradicting emotions and energies.

Looking at the trend of having a restaurant next to a pharmacy, I made certain assumptions. First, the local people in Madrid might not be aware of how important strategic location is for their businesses. Second, they might have limited options for strategic locations as a result of a competitive market dominated by franchise stores that have more capital and can afford better locations for their businesses.

Starbucks strategic location

One example that supports my second assumption is the strategic location of Starbucks in the city. Unlike the local restaurants that have poor location settings, Starbucks is placed in a very strategic location: in the middle of the intersection and in front of a high school. This shows how franchise stores in Madrid take advantage of their monetary status.

Magazine Stall in Calle de Serrano

In addition to restaurants and franchise stores, the placement of magazine stall in Salamanca is also very unique. There are many magazine stalls in the street of Calle de Serrano right in front of the high end stores. I thought that magazine stalls in Calle de Sarrano are somewhat unfit for the location because they are not aesthetically pleasing for the shoppers.

Lavapiez By Nuri

This picture symbolizes gentrification of Lavapiez. When walking around the neighborhood, I noticed a lot of white dumpsters in front of the apartments. Here, a worn out mattress. Underneath the mattress, there are fractures that look like walls. I didn't realize it at the moment but a construction workers were going into the building. It seemed that some apartments were being renovated and the current residents were moving out. It all made sense when our speaker Jose talked about what is happening in Lavapiez.
These two photos were taken by me and Regina at different times. The unpolished and disorganized grocery store represented my impression of Lavapiez. Regina thought H express in the neighborhood seemed somewhat unfit for the location. In fact, these two stores were juxtaposed to each other, serving different customer segments in the same neighborhood. The middle aged looking man on the left was wearing comfortable clothing and he seemed very local. The man on the right was a younger customer who seemed like someone who have recently moved into Lavapiez.
The local store in Lavapiez shove dried fruits in the corner and were stuck on the window. Some packaged grapes were thrown on top of the dried fruits. I wasn't sure if many locals in Lavapiez consume a lot of dried fruits but they didn't look appealing. In contrast, grocery stores in Chueca display food looking fresh and neat. This store used wooden shelves that adds to the look of organic farmers. As younger people are moving out from Chueca to Lavapiez, the local stores like above don't have much chance to survive. Even though these local stores have served the locals for a long time, they would need to start changing the store ambiance that caters more to the changing demographics of the residents.

In conclusion, we saw that these neighborhoods are undergoing constant change. Many local coffee shops do not offer "to-go" hot coffee, so Starbucks is taking over the popular areas by attracting young,busy locals and tourists. H express opened new stores in Lavapiez to cater the emerging segment of young professional residents. In Chueca, healthy/organic diet was trending. Mercado de San Anton sells fresh fish and vegetables while some other restaurants even grow their own vegetables to serve to the customers. As tourism continues to drive Spanish economy, it will be interesting to see how these neighborhood evolves to accommodate tourists into their everyday lives.

Created By
Regina Palma
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