Sunday, June 10, 2012

Park Design Government Propaganda!

            As an American who rarely gets to see a beautiful public park, walking through the Parque del Buen Retiro in Madrid is truly an inspiring experience.  This area seems to have something for everyone: music, art, theatre, recreational sports, places to read and even competitive chess.  It is even interesting for engineers because of its complexity and well-designed layout.  I noticed while wandering through the park that somehow I always ended up making it back to the lake in the middle of the park.  The park was likely designed this way so that all visitors would be pulled toward the monument to king Alfonso XII that is situated on one side of the lake.  I found this fascinating for two reasons.  The first one is that the layout facilitates people meeting together and having a sense of togetherness and community as everyone will eventually end up in the same place.  The second reason is that the monarchy specifically designed this area as the focal point of the park and installed a gigantic monument to the king.  This acts as a constant reminder to the citizens of the power and size of the monarchy.  Another notable aspect of the design of Retiro Park is that most of the main avenues that lead to the great monument are named after countries that Spain conquered, like Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela.  It is clear that as you walk toward the monument to the monarchy you are treading all over the countries that Spain has taken over and used to promote this very regime.

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