Madrid Rio, a park still under construction in Madrid, is transforming the Spanish capital and its waterfront. The park is over six miles long and is reviving a stretch of the Manzanares River by taking over land that was once occupied by highways. The highways have been torn down and redirected around or under the park so that the new public space filled with bike paths, playgrounds, fountains, and a wading pool called “the beach” could be created. The park connects the city back with the river as well as reconnecting neighborhoods that were separated by the old highway.
Hopes that many American cities will transform abandoned and disenfranchised urban areas to public use have become more tangible with the success of projects like the Madrid Rio. Cities affected by population decline and highways that cut right through neighborhoods can use the Madrid Rio as a template to bolster economic activity and make refurbished communities more attractive. Urban revitalization by reclaiming industrial areas to natural states may be the way of the future for many American cities that will need to redefine themselves due to industrial and population decline. The impact of building green, public spaces in urban cities is massive especially for its residents; as Madrid official, Ms. Martinez, states: “Now people who opened their windows to the sound of cars, open their windows to the sound of birds”.
Kimmelman, Michael. “In Madrid’s Heart, Park Blooms Where a Freeway Once Blighted”. The New York Times. 26 December, 2011.
The American Institute of Architects has recognized the unique LOTT Clean Water Alliance Water Treatment Plant in Olympia, Washington as one of the “Top Ten Green Projects” of 2011. It is unlike most sewage treatment plants by the fact that instead of being separated from the local community, it is meant to actively engage the public through its “WET Center” (Water Educational and Technology Center). The treatment plant provides Class A reclaimed water which is “wastewater that has been treated to higher standards and can therefore be used for irrigation, toilet flushing, and industrial and manufacturing uses.” (Miller Hull). The building uses reclaimed water for its indoor plumbing needs, to fill the man-made ponds which give aesthetic value to the building, and to irrigate the landscape around the building and on its green roof. The pond’s perimeter is surrounded by multiple interpretive exhibits that explain the pond and reclaimed water.
Sources: Miler Hull and The American Institute of Architects
Scott Jablonski, VERTICES Intern