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Culture and Creativity

Cáceres: designed by locals

People, governments, and experts redeveloping Santiago square together.

Type of project :
Size of city/region:
3D view of Santiago square in Cáceres, Spain.

Key facts

Architecture studios: Antonio Alvarez-Cienfuegos via a competition organised by the Official College of Architects of Extremadura (COADE)

Main sponsor: Pueblos con futuro - Programme through the Cáceres Provincial Authority

Year completed: ongoing

Total area:  3 300.50 m2

City / regional background

Cáceres has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986. Santiago square is a popular spot for religious inhabitants, other locals, and tourists alike, hosting numerous cultural and leisure activities.

However, residents’ associations expressed growing concerns about the degradation and marginalisation of this area of exceptional architectural and heritage value.

In 2022, the public authorities decided to improve the square. They wanted to transform it into a more attractive space that could better meet the needs of users, accommodate various activities and reinforce the local community’s sense of belonging.

The Official College of Architects of Extremadura (COADE) was entrusted to run a competition to collect proposals to:

  • improve accessibility to the square; improve its functionality
  • establish a strategy for car mobility and parking
  • enhance green areas
  • ensure the proper management of urban services
  • improve water collection and drainage

This initiative is inspired by the values and principles of the New European Bauhaus, and the Spanish Urban Agenda. It implements actions foreseen by the Local Action Plan of Cáceres and meets objectives set in the Spanish long-term strategy for buildings’ energy renovation.


The renovation of the Santiago square and its surrounding neighbourhood is the outcome of

  • a participatory approach that closely involved citizens in the decision-making process
  • a collaboration between several governance levels, which provided strong leadership
  • expert guidance provided by the COADE

The specifications of this competition were formulated by a working group made up of representatives of residents’ associations, COADE, and public authorities. The Provincial Council of Cáceres, the City Council of Cáceres, and COADE also held several technical meetings to align their criteria and expectations.

The COADE, in collaboration with residents' associations, carried out numerous meetings, workshops, and actions, such as visits to the square, throughout the process to raise awareness among inhabitants and collect their proposals.

The competition jury, made up of residents, architects, and representatives from the local and provincial administrations, convened in July 2022 to review all submissions. In October 2022, the winning project was publicly presented and an exhibition showcasing all the proposals was inaugurated at the COADE headquarters, in the presence of all the stakeholders involved in the process.

Criteria for high-quality (context, sense of place, diversity, beauty)

  • The rehabilitation process for the square is strongly rooted in the concerns and proposals expressed by the residents, considering the specificities of the place, namely a square and neighbourhood with high heritage value.
  • A core objective was to reinforce the local community’s sense of belonging. The participatory approach has enabled architects to tailor the solutions for the rehabilitation of the square to the needs of all users, considering the heritage value of the place.
  • Throughout the process, numerous actions were carried out to sensitise inhabitants to the challenges of the project and collect their proposals. This participatory approach enabled to design bespoke solutions and reinforce the community’s sense of belonging.

Planning and management

The project was supervised by several public administrations, including the

  • Cáceres Provincial Council (Department of Intelligent Territorial Infrastructures and Mobility),
  • Cáceres City Council (Office of Urban Development and Historic City)
  • Historic City of Cáceres Consortium

The Competition Ideas was developed and implemented by the COADE, with contributions from the Ciudad Monumental de Cáceres Neighbourhood Association and the Technological Institute of Ornamental Rocks and Construction Materials (INTROMAC).

Budget and financing

The total budget allocated to the whole process (including the forthcoming renovation works) was € 600 000; provided by the Provincial Council of Cáceres to the COADE to implement the project and the rehabilitation works. This budget will probably be increased to €1.1 million due to inflation.

Transferable ideas

  • Design and implement a structured participatory process from the outset, in which inhabitants of all ages, genders and social backgrounds, are at the centre of decisions.
  • This participatory process must be led and advised by professionals, so that decisions are technically and economically feasible.
  • Foster a dialogue between different points of view, disciplines and administrations in a multi-level co-governance process.

Contact information

  • Contact the Official College of Architects of Extremadura (COADE) via email.
  • Contact the urban planning department of the municipality of Cáceres via email.