PAX – Patios de la Axerquía

Córdoba, ES
An innovative way of reviving traditional forms of living in historic patio-houses


PAX—Patios de la Axerquía is aimed at promoting an innovative system of governance for unoccupied patio-houses in the UNESCO World Heritage-recognized city centre of Córdoba, Spain. The association PAX supports the establishment of individual community cooperatives for the acquisition and cooperative use of empty patio-houses. PAX is promoting an integrated project aimed at reactivating the sustainability potential of the city centre by avoiding tourism-focused gentrification while providing permanent accommodation for local residents and regenerating the biodiversity potential of the patio courtyards. PAX provides an alternative to property ownership and rental agreements in a high-value heritage environment, updating the co-living arrangements that have traditionally characterised the Mediterranean city. PAX is devised as a model to be repeated in other areas in Córdoba and similar cities, especially in the Mediterranean area.


In city centre


PAX – Patios de Axerquía, a citizen-led association, operates in the Axerquía, the eastern side of the historic centre of the city of Córdoba, in southern Spain. Córdoba has a rich history, having been the second-largest city in Europe in the 10th Century and the capital of an Islamic Caliphate. It is the city with the most UNESCO-recognized Heritage Sites globally, and its city centre in its entirety is considered historical heritage. [3;5] The patio-houses themselves not only are a tangible heritage structure but also have immaterial value, as they represent a traditional system of communal living. Moreover, they are recognized for their ecological importance, as they play an essential part in supporting biodiversity and climate regulation in the Mediterranean urban environment. [4;6]

To counter depopulation in conjunction with gradual and severe degradation of its heritage, due to increasing tourism and gentrification in the historic Axerquía district, the initiative of PAX has taken up the challenge to revive community-based living spaces. [1] It undertakes research activities to promote the creation and transfer of knowledge about societal and urban entrepreneurial problem-solving. It also aims to promote the implementation of social innovation strategies, the social and solidarity economy and cooperativism in order to find new ways to satisfy housing and social needs and is involved in the training of citizens in regeneration activities. Finally, it promotes knowledge and recognition of good practices in urban areas, encouraging the emergence of spaces for exchange, debate and cooperation. [4]

An essential pillar of their work is the ‘heritage communities’ that PAX aims to strengthen. It does so by promoting co-ownership and co-management of the traditional patio-houses. The association has enabled and supported the creation of citizen-led cooperatives through which individual patio-houses are acquired, renovated, and finally, inhabited. [1;4] Spain’s increasing property ownership culture has made the model of this initiative an innovative one, promoting alternative forms of ownership in a high heritage value environment. [2] PAX aims to operate as a structure that unites housing, rehabilitation, and service cooperatives to generate a local microeconomy. PAX is devised as a model to be repeated in other areas in Córdoba and similar cities, especially in the Mediterranean area. [1]


Heritage utilized
Building(s) and/or monumental structures
New lifestyles; Resilient and Human Connected places
Community action; Education; Energy transition; Green space; Housing; Sharing economy; Social inclusion; Public space


The organisation of the initiative takes place at two different levels. At the first level, there’s PAX, the association, which was co-founded by two architects and one architect/anthropologist. These three individuals currently form the executive board of the association. The association collaborates with a range of organisations and institutions (both public and citizen-led) to gather the most accurate knowledge for the initiative to work effectively. At this more strategic level, decisions are made about the operational model of the initiative as a whole. [1;2]

On the second level, activities ‘on the ground’ are conducted. PAX supports the creation of citizen-led cooperatives for the rehabilitation of patio-houses. As these cooperatives are formed by the (prospective) owners/users of a patio-house, this group of individuals effectively makes the final decisions on how the space is distributed, what activities take place within the premises, and how day-to-day management will be conducted in their specific house. PAX provides support and advice throughout this process. [1;2]


Governance arrangement
Led by citizens / community group
Organisational form
Non-Profit Entity
Stakeholders involved in implementation
Non-governmental organisation / non-profit organisation; Citizens or Community group; Researchers / University

Business Model

Given that the traditional banking system did not acknowledge the legal structure of a collective property, the initial investment was provided by an ethical bank – Fiare Banca Etica. The ethical bank was willing to finance the acquisition and rehabilitation of the first patio-house, providing trust in PAX’s strategy to invest in urban regeneration without aiming for financial speculative value. [1] The association in itself does not necessarily need any financing, and so the individual cooperative that is formed for each patio-house is the entity that requires funding for the acquisition and renovation of the patio-houses. The individual cooperatives have thus far raised funding from out-of-pocket money of members and loans from the ethical bank Fiare Banca Etica. [1]


Initial investment
Type of financial resources utilized
Loan; Community investments
Source of financial resources
Ethical Bank; Cooperative members
Non-financial contributions
Provision of knowledge by non-governmental organisations / non-profit organisations

Additional information

This case is also featured in the HUB-IN Business and Financing Model Guide.
This guide provides you with a state of the art overview of business, financing and governance models, relevant to the heritage-led regeneration of Historic Urban Areas.


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

  2. PAX Patios de la Axerquía. (September, 2019). Reportaje de Andalucía Directo sobre la inciativa PAX-Patios de la Axerquía. YouTube. Retrieved from on 25/02/2022

  3. Vora, S. (December, 2018). This city now has more UNESCO Heritage sites than anywhere in the world. CNN. Retrieved from on 25/02/2022

  4. Patios de Axerquía, organisational website,, accessed on 25/02/2022

  5. UNESCO (n.d.), Historic Centre of Cordoba, available on, accessed on 25/02/2022

  6. UNESCO (n.d.), Fiesta of the Patios in Cordoba, available on, accessed on 25/02/2022