The public architecture in Madrid and in the beginning of the 21st century (III) | Antón Capitel

Beach of the Manzanares and Perrault’s Bridge. Madrid Rio, of the Burgos&Garrido´s equipment

Another public accomplishment, of the Town hall of Madrid, is not architectural but urban, and is the great linear park along the river Manzanares, called “Madrid río”, and projected and constructed by the architects Francisco Burgos, Ginés Garrido, Fernando Porras, and his equipments.

It turns out impossible to forget the fact that this park is a dissimulation or alibi, a disguise, for the burial of the “M-30” highway, so expensive and so absurd. The fact that since this work was done he has supposed that has done to himself on her a park, probably be nice, like species of compensation. But it us is not going to make forget – it does not make to me it forget me, to less – the absurd matter of the burial of the highway.

It turns out impossible to forget the fact that this park is a dissimulation or alibi, a disguise, for the burial of the highway, so expensive and so absurd. The fact that since this work was done he has supposed that has done to himself on her a park, probably be nice, like species of compensation. But it us is not going to make forget – it does not make to me it forget me, to less – the absurd matter of the burial of the highway.

Absurdity because a highway is left or removes itself, is not buried. The solutions of engineering, the technical miracles, are not but deceptions. They would have fitted in the matter two solutions. One of them is to eliminate the condition of highway without eliminating the great street. This is, to reduce his section of rolled traffic, to put semaphores and zebra crossings, to turn the highway into a street – park, following examples already very consolidated in Madrid, since it is the Avenue of the Illustration, of a side, or Arturo Soria’s street, of other one. Or the own Castilian one, without going beyond.

Other one of them was her of eliminating the route as great street and happening to realize a street of minor order, with few capacity of traffic, but with something of capacity, and to landscape everything suitably. This second solution could have been very similar to the current accomplishment, though it had happened for understanding that the M-30 could be eliminated as important route of rolled traffic. Personally I think that this one had been a positive for the city, though it had been required other adjustments. And I believe that also it had been a positive for the urban concrete design, since it had been also a route park, which I believe that it had improved it on having given an urban argument of normal character to him. Probably, more park than route, in this second case, but route to the end.

Because, to my to deal, the worse of “Madrid Río” (being in yes the same positive, and also in his design, entendámonos) it is this sensation of having to turn into a luck of “paradise”, instead of into a simple park, obligation that comes, naturally, to compensate the secret hell on the one that one agrees and to the one that it covers. Since below the absurd tunnel is, so sinister in yes same and that has cost so much money, which is in addition without paying, it turns out necessary to do above a “sky”. It is like what happens in H.G’s famous novel. Wells, “The tunnel of the time”, when the protagonist goes to the future and finds a green paradise, with classic and wonderful architectures, and blond and beautiful peoples, that triscan and they sing for his green garden. Until it realizes that, which give the orders, they are dark and ugly, and live, with his machines, in underground blacks. And that, occasionally, they hunt to blond and beautiful of the top part, and they eat, since these are not any more than the cattle.

A similar trauma seems that it happens in the M-30: the existence of a low hell that demands a top paradise. It of above it cannot be a simple park, has to be something special. And, nevertheless, the good thing would be that it was a simple park.

This way, so, the characteristic that calls principally the attention is that of the formal showiness of the new park, question that comes from the already above mentioned thing, on the one hand, and in a slightly silly way in the one that is wanted and the things are done now, in the contemporary world, by other one. The parks, to my to deal, should be simpler. They cannot be so simple as in the United Kingdom or in the north of Spain; this is, with grass and trees, simply, since the grass has not to of reaching Castile, and, this way it is of being grateful that in this case an important effort has been done to plant a Castilian garden, and to avoid the lawn. But everything is in “Madrid Río” very complex and varied, too baroquly, and looking often what, some time ago, was calling “Folie”. The syndrome of the contest of the park of “The Vilette”, in Paris, already of so many years ago, overflies still the case that occupies us.

Though it does not want to say that the result should be bad, far from it. To find in Madrid newly and immense park – the great size is, certainly, one of his very positive characteristics, probably the one that more – is extraordinarily attraction and the showiness and the obsession of form and of variety of his treatment they are not, actually, faults. It is a question, simply, of a dissension for my part in relation to what it had been, to my to deal, a more suitable character. To find in the river something like chunk of the Retirement, of the Pasture of the Villa, or of the Mount of The Dun one, it had been, think I, more satisfactory. Probably it was impossible, do not be.

On the other hand, there is a culture of the detail and of his systematic one, express in the works realized in stone-bordillos, banks, walls, etc. – that is enormously guessed right and that qualifies the work and gives him an attractive continuity. And that mostly offsets the excessive variety before commented. It seems to me that this is something very important and that it is capable of speaking itself of the high quality of the designers more than the singular things.

Between these, the showiest thing they are the bridges, and probably be they that more trasmiten the idea of unnecessary showiness and of excessive variety, characterizing and infecting to the totality. But it is necessary to admit, in addition, that the most pretentious and the worst is not a bridge of an engineer, but of an architect. It yes, of a French architect, Dominique Perrault, one of the false typical values of the contemporary architecture. It turns out to be difficult enough to deal why it has been asked this insignificant personage that to put badly engineer and worse sculptor, when precisely the architecture that better it did was always, and only, that of tradition miesiana and racionalist. The showiness of Perrault’s gangplank floods and infects everything, having the danger of turning into the emblem itself of the action.

Nevertheless, quedémonos finally with the better thing: we have in Madrid newly and the biggest park, capable of putting in enclosed value the apprentice of river. One does not forget us that it has been a fact to cover, and to make forget, a hell. But, something is something, and is enough.

(to be continued…)

Antonio González-Capitel Martínez · Doctor architect · professor in ETSAM

Madrid · march 2013

Antón Capitel

Es arquitecto y catedrático de Proyectos de la Escuela de Arquitectura de Madrid, fue director de la revista Arquitectura (COAM) de 1981-86 y de 2001-09. Historiador, ensayista y crítico, ha publicado numerosos artículos en revistas españolas y extranjeras sobre arquitectura española e internacional. Entre sus libros destacan diferentes monografías sobre arquitectos.

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