38岁的教师 Miguel Cobos 是马德里某街区的长期居民，目前住在他所谓的“小公寓”中，这是一间位于一栋19世纪传统建筑科拉拉中的，面积为25平方米的翻新房间。
他说：“西班牙人住在公寓里，是因为这里没有合理价格的房屋供应，如果价格合理，这些房屋实际上离市中心或工作地点很远。” 他希望自己有一天可以在马德里郊外的山村里拥有一所房子，在那里他的父母已经有了第二套房子。但是如果他留在马德里，他的选择将是有限的。 “在马德里，几乎所有房源都是公寓。”
拉布德大学和荷兰研究所的博士后研究员历史学家Gloria Román表示，西班牙的公寓热潮始于1960年代和70年代，在Francisco Franco的独裁统治下形成，那时人们离开乡村到城市工作，带来大规模的城市增长。“那时迫切需要为工人阶级进行大规模的房屋建设， 为了节省成本，而决定以垂直而不是水平的方式建设。” Román说。
Over the weeks of Spain’s tough lockdown, images of people on their balconies applauding healthcare workers have spread across the globe. The footage has been hailed as a heart-warming show of appreciation, but it has also served another purpose: reinforcing the idea of apartment dwellers as the core of Spain’s urban communities.
Spain has one of the highest percentages of flat residents in Europe, according to Eurostat. Almost two-thirds of the population live in flats, the highest rate for any EU nation apart from Latvia. In Italy, the proportion is around half, and in France it’s just over a third. In the UK, flat-dwellers only make up 15% of the population. Some 65% of homes for sale in Spain are flats, according to Fernando Encinar of Spanish property site Idealista, compared to just 25% on UK site Rightmove.
Teacher Miguel Cobos, 38, a long-time resident of the same neighbourhood in Madrid, currently lives in what he calls a “mini-flat”, a 25-sq/m renovated home in a corrala, a traditional 19th Century building.
“Spaniards live in flats because there is no supply of houses at reasonable prices, and if the price is reasonable, they are really far away from the centre or from places of work,” he says. One day, he would like to own a house in the mountain village outside Madrid where his parents have a second home. But if he stays put, his options are limited. “In Madrid, practically the entire supply is flats.”
Spain’s apartment boom began in the 1960s and 70s under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, when people left the countryside to find work in the cities, leading to massive urban growth, says historian Gloria Román, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Radboud and the NIOD Institute in The Netherlands. “It was urgently necessary to build massively for the working classes. And it was decided to do it in height, growing vertically instead of horizontally because it was cheaper,” says Román.
Spain may be a nation of flat-dwellers, but it is also traditionally a nation of homeowners. It’s another reason why flats – that were generally cheaper to buy – became so popular. According to Eurostat figures, 76% of Spaniards owned their own home in 2018, compared to 65% of French and British people and 52% of Germans.