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PAX—Patios de la Axerquía Urban Regeneration and Social Innovation in a Heritage Context


Following a decades-long real estate bubble involving a culture of indiscriminate ownership and occupation of land, PAX—Patios de la Axerquía is proposing an innovative system of governance in the city of Córdoba in Spain that fosters a new urban model consistent with the aims of the New Urban Agenda and a Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive City: from a culture of speculation to one of rehabilitation. A system of multilevel co-management between the public administration and the social economy provides the basis for the acquisition and cooperative use of empty houses as a model of urban regeneration through social innovation in a heritage context. The rehabilitation of the patio-houses in Axerquía, which have been threatened by gentrification, aims to restore the environmental values of the Mediterranean city and upgrade its historical characteristics in a contemporary way together with the citizenship: from its architectural value as a World Heritage site to its anthropological value as Intangible Heritage of Humanity, as recognised by UNESCO in 2012. The interaction between innovative mechanisms of sustainable urban development opens up a pathway of virtuous policies for the densification of the existing city by the local population, generation of micro-employment, and support for collective projects that incorporate refugees and migrants in a system of solidarity. Updating the urban, environmental, social, and economic values of the traditional city is a step toward understanding the Mediterranean city as an undeniable reminder of our past and, at the same time, providing an essential tool for the future development of a smart, sustainable, and inclusive Europe.


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Correspondence to Gaia Redaelli.

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Redaelli, G. PAX—Patios de la Axerquía Urban Regeneration and Social Innovation in a Heritage Context. Built Heritage 3, 91–104 (2019).

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  • urban rehabilitation
  • social innovation
  • gentrification
  • heritage
  • cooperative processes
  • Housing cooperatives