Parks, politics, and the general interest | Design studio at the School of Madrid


During this semester one of the courses I coordinate, ‘Urbanism and the City,’ will focus on the district of Chamberí, in Madrid, and particularly on some of its sites in contention, especially Parque Santander, better known as Parque del Canal de Isabel II, a space located over one of the biggest water reservoirs of the city. The place is sadly notorious for a wicked political management that perfectly illustrates how planning and urban design can become means to manipulate and produce a distorted ‘general interest’ that articulates political hegemonies and urban imaginations. Many years ago the regional government decided to transform the initially planned park in a space devoted primarily to privately-run sports facilities, dedicating most of the surface area to a huge artificial driving range for golfers—the ridiculous type shown at the end of Wim Wenders’ Tokyo-Ga. The change was justified on the grounds that golf was a…

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