Wind in the Willows: How Madrid Plans to Stay Cool for the Summer

The Project

In 2024 Spain is planning to begin the main construction phase of a new urban park covering 145,000 square metres in the Capital Madrid. Covering the northern region of the city, the project has been aptly named Madrid’s Nuevo Norte. One of Europe’s largest urban renewal initiatives, the project has been negotiated for over 25 years and aims to reinvent the city’s northern rail station and surrounding districts. Building atop the dead space created by the existing railway tracks leading to Chamartín Station, the park aims to reunite the historically isolated neighbourhoods surrounding the area.

Connecting the City

The park will provision for key traffic thoroughfares including the M30 ring road, featuring a series of new bridges linking previously disconnected eastern and western edges of the district. However, the project hopes to encourage a shift away from Madrids’ car-centric attitudes toward providing a space for pedestrians and cyclists. Following a north-south axis, the park will connect the city’s bike lanes. The park also has ambitious plans to incorporate the high-speed train system and rapid bus transit. These developments will revolutionise a city where almost 80 percent of all trips are made by car, and just 1.9 percent of these vehicles are hybrid or electric.

Committed to Sustainability

However, the park aims to be much more than a welcoming space and is hoping to becoming a new benchmark of sustainability. The park plans incorporate rain gardens, a large lawn and meadow to encourage visitors to connect with nature. Additionally the entire site is connected by a green corridor totalling almost 450,000 m², spanning parkland, playgrounds and greenscapes, linking this neglected area to the rest of the city. The project also hopes to create a more sustainable area that enhances local biodiversity by restoring the area’s natural hydrologic processes, including natural draining and stormwater management.

Natural Air Conditioning

More excitingly, the park will include a space nicknamed ‘El Jardín del Viento’ a.k.a Garden of Wind. The garden takes inspiration from ancient Middle Eastern techniques that created ‘air conditioning’ effects by arranging towers and landscaping gardens to catch and re-distribute breezes. The revamped design features a spiral covered by vegetation; this high rising vertical garden will emerge above treetops and capture high breezes, producing a microclimate in the centre of the park that is 4°C cooler than the neighbouring spaces, providing a welcome relief to tourists and natives alike. With the increasing frequency and intensity of heatwaves hitting Europe, features like ‘El Jardín del Viento’ could transform from novelties to staples of cities world-wide.