Madrid Río, a 120-hectare linear park that transformed the banks of Madrid's Manzanares River, has been awarded the Harvard Graduate School of Design's 12th Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design. Designed by Burgos & Garrido, Porras & La Casta, Rubio & Álvarez-Sala, and West 8, the public park completed its final phase this year - 10 years after being announced as winner of project's international competition.
“The decision to award Madrid Río the Green Prize in Urban Design was motivated by the jury’s desire to highlight the potential for thoughtfully planned and carefully executed mobility infrastructures to transform a city and its region,” commented jury chair Rahul Mehrotra, Professor of Urban Design and Planning at Harvard GSD. “The extent to which the project harnesses the deployment of new infrastructures as an opportunity to repair and regenerate the city through carefully articulated design interventions is particularly valuable within the context of contemporary urbanization globally.”
In the 1970s, the Manzanares River was lined by the eight-lane M-30 roadway; communities were isolated, tourism was almost non-existent, and congestion was at an all-time high. The birth of Madrid Río gave the city an opportunity to reclaim its land. Throughout its construction, nearly 30 kilometers of tunnels were surfaced, 11 new footbridges were built, five historic dams and two bridges were restored, and a large number of new amenities and sports fields were established - all significantly contributing to strength of the surrounding communities and overall city.
“Madrid Río’s designers confronted many constraints—a short schedule, a limited budget, and they had to be reactive—responsive to decisions that had already been made [with regards to the tunnels]," said jury member and architect Toshiko Mori. "Despite a perhaps not ideal process and other controversial local political issues, in the long term the impact of the project will be positive. With a meager budget, the team made many wise decisions—for example, to invest in plantings to create pockets of shading and the reuse of stone [from the site] to create interesting walls that vary from place to place, providing continuity throughout while lending a sense of locality and tactility. The landscape is not monolithic, but rather episodic—disrupting the linearity of the park with a variety of elements that encourage oblique ways of viewing and traversing its spaces. This is a park that admirably responds to the contemporary desires and values of the people using it."
An exhibition on the winning project will be on view at the GSD’s Gund Hall gallery from January 18 to March 6, 2016. The awards ceremony will be held at the GSD on February 2, at which prize jury chair Mehrotra will lead a discussion and presentation.
News via Harvard GSD