Sunday, June 10, 2012

Civil Engineering in the Planning Phase

            Retiro Park is the product of contemporary thinking in a city whose life has spanned several centuries.  The spider web of a street layout that in Madrid is typical of older European cities that have grown in response to citizens’ needs instead of according to a premeditated block system organization.  Parts of the business district to the northwest of the Accent center are developed in blocks, but in general, the city follows an old style of randomized development similar in manner to other older metropolitan areas like Athens, Paris, or Rome.
            It is curious then, to experience a place like Retiro Park in such an old city.  Retiro is a textbook example of a “green space” designed by civil engineers into a large metropolitan area.  Another example of such a space would be Manhattan’s Central Park.  What is interesting to notice though, is that Retiro is roughly shaped as a rectangle.  Central Park is a perfect rectangle, but that is understandable because of the more recent thinking—with respect to Madrid’s age—that went into planning Manhattan as a uniform system of streets and avenues.  It was curious then, to experience Retiro Park in all its “green space” glory.  Retiro Park is a functioning respite for all Madrid’s citizens to enjoy as it has its own lake, museum, turtle pond, variety of different grassy fields, and crystal palace modern art exhibit.  With all these different features conveniently squeezed into shape that looks like it fits between a few city blocks, Retiro Park is a juxtaposition of a new idea in an aged city, and one could not help but feel a little bit of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome after wandering back toward the Atocha metro station for some delicious Cien Montaditos.

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