Madrid Río

2015 PRIZE

The 12th Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design as been awarded to Madrid Río, a new linear park in Madrid designed by a team led by Ginés Garrido of Burgos & Garrido, including Porras & La Casta, Rubio & Álvarez-Sala, and West 8.

An birdseye view overlooking two bridges at Madrid Rio by West 8 and MRIO

Madrid Río is a vast leisure and cultural spot parallel to the River Manzanares, which, thanks to its restoration, has recovered its surprising fauna. Historic monuments and leisure and culture facilities alongside the riverbed that has recovered its biodiversity in giant leaps.

Madrid Río illustrates the transformative potentials of architecture, landscape, urban design, and planning for the city of Madrid. The project particularly demonstrates a deft interplay between the sensibilities of urban design and landscape architecture in order to weave together disparate components of the city, ranging from historic buildings and infrastructure, to vegetation at an immense scale. The space of the project facilitates new forms of mobility while reconnecting neighborhoods that renew social relationships. The bridges, a crucial element in the project, both literally and symbolically celebrate the proximity between previously separated portions of the city. Importantly, the project invigorates civic space while creating room for new architecture and innovative infrastructure interventions. The professional and pedagogical value of Madrid Río is that it demonstrates a collaborative design process that involves several firms, spanning the disciplines of urban design, planning, landscape, and infrastructure engineering. The project showcases the diverse complexity of the economic, technical, political, logistical, and cultural challenges that were faced and surmounted by Madrid Río’s designers and proponents in creating a wonderful public asset for the city of Madrid.


About the Project

Section Studies

Madrid Río is an urban design project implemented on top of a complex series of buried vehicular roads that span over 6 kilometers (3.7 miles). Since the logic of the topography was restricted by the parameters of the infrastructure, this project’s intricacy is revealed in its ever-changing cross section. Vegetation was employed as one of the main construction materials wherever possible, enabling the designers to create a landscape of living matter over the inert subterranean substratum. This vegetated landscape serves to reunite a space that was formerly divided by urban infrastructure—a natural construction, taking root over an artificial base. The left bank of the river is distinct from the right bank and the designers employed contextually specific techniques for each side. On the right bank they created two corridors: one associated with the city and closely linked to residential buildings, forming a pedestrian spine. The other—the Salón de Pinos—is linked to the river and is similar to a formal landscape typology from the nineteenth century. The left bank is wider with gentle slopes and resolves the relationship with the city’s historical past through the restoration and construction of three distinct spaces—the Matadero, the Parque de la Arganzuela, and the Jardines de Virgen del Puerto.

Children playing in the Arganzuela Fountains
Arganzuela Fountains
A young man holding a sweatshirt and skateboard on the Puente Praga.
Puente Praga

Urban Design & Vegetation

The palette of plant species for Madrid Río was developed through careful evaluation of the existing species found in the river basin and their ability to adapt to the specific urban environment of Madrid. The organization and distribution of the plantings was determined by the vegetation’s capacity to give shape to various programmatic spaces and to perform ecologically. The plantings make up three primary collections of landscape features. The first is the Salón de Pinos, a green corridor that passes by the right bank of the river and enables continuity from existing bridges, giving rise to various riverbank-garden conditions. The second is a woodland park of over 1,700 hectares, and the third is a wide strip on the left bank where the whole of the Parque de la Arganzuela is located, including an adaptive reuse of an old slaughterhouse, the Matadero Centre, which is surrounded by a large area of intensive landscaping. A total of over 35,000 mature trees, 200 saplings and 4 million shrubs, have been planted in the Madrid Río project.

A bed of red flowers in the Geometric Gardens
Geometric gardens
Lush ferns and bushes surrounding a play area
Play areas

Regional & Urban Scale Studies

The Madrid Río project has consisted of two very different and successive phases—the initial phase of submerging the western belt of the M-30 highway, and the second phase of programming the transformed area. The process included an international competition for ideas, which was initiated and concluded in 2005—simultaneously while completing work on the tunnel—with the construction plan finished in 2010. Qualitative ambitions for improving the lives of people along the new riverfront were analyzed in depth by focusing on measures of feasibility such as increased land value through reevaluation of properties, savings on fuel, long term reduction in health-care expenses, and a subsequent reduction in taxes. At the urban scale, the project has incorporated the river into the finer grain of the city through a diversity of building types and configured a set of connected green spaces that stitch together formerly disconnected areas. It also establishes a new system of mobility and accessibility, increases quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods, and protects and revitalizes national heritage sites. Most importantly it detects areas of opportunity that, in this new field of centrality, will potentially be able to catalyze long-term positive changes for the entire city. The drawings on this board analyze and represent the impact of the river to the entire region, and speculate the potential for intervention through engineering and design.

Aerial view of Madrid at the Puente de Segovia.
Aerial view of Madrid at the Puente de Segovia


One of the primary characteristics of the project is an unprecedented level of permeability across the river. This was achieved with the construction and restoration of over 20 bridges and river crossings. The bridges are surprisingly varied in form—some have been unobtrusively restored with historical accuracy, while others have been newly designed. In the short span of time since their construction, these bridges have become iconic aspects of the project—ubiquitous to most references of Madrid Río on social media.

Park users walking near the Greenhouse Footbridge
Greenhouse footbridge
Y-shaped Footbridge with an overlook jutting out over the river
Y-shaped footbridge


Ginés Garrido, Team director

Burgos & Garrido Arquitectos
Francisco Burgos, Ginés Garrido

Porras La Casta Arquitectos
Arantxa La Casta, Fernando Porras-Isla

Rubio & Álvarez-Sala Arquitectos
Enrique Álvarez-Sala, Carlos Rubio

West8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture
Edzo Bindels, Adriaan Geuze

Javier Malo de Molina

Design Team Madrid
Jaime Álvarez Santana, Irene Álvarez de Miranda, Silvia Aydillo, María Bandrés, Rocío Caro, Sergio del Castillo, Alicia Colmenarejo, Isabel Cuellas, María Ángeles Fernández García, Carlos Fernández Salgado, Gabriela Galíndez, Pablo García Neila, Elena Garicano, Ignacio Escauriaza, Eduardo González Corrales, Gabriela Hombravella, Miguel Ángel López-Mir, Raquel Lozano, Marina del Mármol, Rocío Martín Ruiz-Jarabo, Raquel Marugán, Samir M’hamdi Alaoui, Gemma Montañez, Eleucidio Moreno, Víctor Muñoz, Matías Nieto, Ana Palancarejo, Susana Paz, Nerea del Pozo, Jonás Prieto, Xosé Ramiro Sánchez, Marco de Simone, Emma Simonsson, Juan Tur, Alfonso Urbano, Elena Verdú.

Additional Design Team Madrid
Enrique Álvarez-Sala, Beatriz Amann, Pierre Banchet, Araceli Barrero, Jimena Campillo, Carlos Carnicer, Almudena Carro, Rebeca Caso, Cristina Cordero, Mateo Fernández Muro, Estela Fernández Rocafull, Juan Galbis, Maya González González, Irene Gonzalo, Myriam López Rodero, Alberto Martín Hernández, Agustín Martín Salas, Juan José Mateos, María Ángeles Navarro, María Ortega, María Perales, Marina Pereda, Bosco Pita, Pedro Pitarch, Lucía Prado, Pilar Recio, Marta Rogado, Javier Rubio, Beatriz Rubio, Eduardo Ruiz, Ricardo Saldías, Marta Villamor..

Christian Dobrick

Design Team Rotterdam
Martin Beiwenga, Enrique Ibáñez González, Joost Koningen, Freek Boerwinkel, Karsten Buchholz, Lennart van Dijk, Juan Figueroa, Michael Gersbasch, Madalén González, Sander Lap, Silvia Lupini, Perry Maas, Ricardo Minghini, Eva Recio, Marta Roy, Carlos Saldarriaga, Alexander Sverdlov, Mariana Siqueira, Shachar Zur.

Invernadero and Matadero Footbridges

Daniel Canogar

City Council of Madrid

Mayor of Madrid
Alberto Ruiz Gallardón

City Council Delegate of Urban Planning and Housing
Pilar Martínez López

City Council Delegate of Culture, Arts and Sports
Alicia Moreno Espert

City Council Delegate of Finance
Juan Bravo Rivera

City Council General Coordinators
Manuel Arnaiz, Carlos Baztán, Manuel Melis, Beatriz Lobón

City Council General Directors
Cristina Conde de Beroldingen, Javier Hernández Morales, Ana Perpiñá, José María Ortega

City Council General Subdirectors
José Luis Infanzón, Carlos Lasheras, Federico Manzarbeitia, Joaquín Marín, Emilio Martínez Vidal, Jorge Presa

City Council Civil Engineers and Architects
Camino Álvarez, Rafael Castejón, Guillermo de la Calzada, Emilio Esteras, Mercedes Jack, Rosa Olivé, Federico Rodríguez, Teresa Riestra, Fernando Ruiz, Luis Sánchez del Corral

City Council Technical Civil Engineers
Ángel Arias, Lucio Lorenzo, Enrique Montilla, Ramón Suso, Cristina Pérez, Juan Ortigosa, Javier Viñas

City Council Communication Manager
Carlos de la Vega

City Council Financial Managers
Antonia Martínez, María Josefa Ortiz

City Council Legal Advisors
Jesús Pascual, Fernando Fernández

General Engineering

Special Structures
Fhecor [Structures of Tunnel Slabs] Gestión de Proyectos [Structures of Existing Bridges]

Bridge Structures
Fhecor [Almuñécar Footbridge, Oblique Bridge, Matadero and Invernadero Footbridges] Gestión de Proyectos [Dams, Rey Bridge, North Pontoon, Canal Footbridge, Bolas Footbridge] Cesma Ingenieros [Y Footbridge] NB 35 [Princesa Footbridge]

Pilar Jaén / GIMPROSA

Environmental Evaluation

Lighting Design
Architectural Lighting Solutions

Soil Science and Forestry
Fundación Conde Valle Salazar ETS Ingenieros de Montes Madrid

SC Paisajismo, Maria Jesús Franco, Fundación Conde Valle Salazar ETS Ingenieros de Montes Madrid

Aquatic Biology
Grupo de Enxeñaría da Auga e do Medio Ambiente ETSICCP Universidade de A Coruña

Historical Cartography
Departamento de Ideación Gráfica y Arquitectónica ETS Arquitectura Madrid

Richter Spielgeräte, BDU

Ornamental Fountain Technology
Imes API, Somhidros, Lumiartecnia Internacional

Rowing Consultants
Federación Madrileña de Remo, Astilleros Amilibia

Climbing Consultants
Federación Madrileña de Montañismo

Legal Advisors
Bufete Barrilero

Graphic Design and Wayfinding
Gráfica Futura

Digital Technology
Manuel Capón

Computer Graphics

Blanca Pérez, Gilberto Ruiz, Nivel+Maquetas, Gregorio Manzano, Miguel Calabuch

Metal Technology
Belén Jack, Alberto Iglesias

Acciona, Aceinsa Movilidad, Aldesa, Althenia, Andobras, ASCAN Empresa Constructora y de Gestión, Azvi, CEINSA Contratas e Ingeniería, CESPA, COARSA, COMSA, Constructora Hispánica, CORSAN‐ CORVIAM Construcción, CRC Obras y Servicios, Dragados, FCC Construcción, Fernández Molina Obras y Servicios, Ferrovial Agroman, Geotecnia y Cimientos, Grupo Raga, Gyocivil, Imathia, Imes‐API, Ingeniería y Gestión Medioambiental, Irena, Licuas, Obras y Servicios Taga, Obras Generales del Norte, Ogensa, OHL, Ortiz Construcciones y Proyectos, PACSA Servicios Urbanos y del Medio Natural, Plantas Quiles, Ploder UICESA, Portillo Empresa Constructora, SACYR, San José, Sando Construcciones, SECONSA Obras y Construcciones, Tebasa, TECSA Empresa Constructora, Teodoro del Barrio, Velasco Obras y Servicios, Vías y Construcciones, Virtón.

Burgos & Garrido
Porras La Casta
Rubio & Álvarez-Sala

Graduate School of Design
Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean, Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design
Patricia Roberts, Executive Dean
Rahul Mehrotra, Professor of Urban Design and Planning, Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design
Beth Kramer, Associate Dean for Development
Benjamin Prosky, Assistant Dean of Communications

Exhibitions Team
Nupoor Monani
Daniel Rauchwerger
Dan Borelli
David Zimmerman Stuart
James Whitten, MAUD ’13
Forrest Jessee

Isabel Sierra y Gómez de León

Isabel Sierra y Gómez de León
Municipality of Madrid
Jeroen Musch
Ana Muller
Burgos & Garrido, Porras La Casta, Rubio & Álvarez-Sala and West 8