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© Ana Piñeiro 
© Ana Piñeiro 

Talking about heat seems unevitable once summer season has arrived. In this sense, increasingly and recurring droughts lead the debate into the well-known need for water, origin to the oldest settlements and the establishment and growth of cities. Rivers, even in their aspect of smaller streams, are a common feature of our urban environments. We can see how these watercourses are domesticated by channeling them, while at the same time the number of promenades along their banks increases (being the latter object of design within the urban fabric). Discussion about green infrastructure has now shifted to green and blue infrastructure, if not their symbiosis.

In the aesthetic-landscape eagerness, the urban water supply, sewage or drainage system is progressively being forgotten. With the exception of specific occasions (such as the worrying emptiness of reservoirs in Spain) from a Western point of view, water-related problems seem to have been overcome: our cities are running smoothly, drinking water is of good quality, and sewerage collects dirty water and rainwater, which is even reused in the most developed cities for irrigation or flushing. But we tend to forget that water scarcity is an endemic issue and that there are places where water-related diseases are still recurrent, or getting a little water for drinking or cooking becomes a daily adventure of pure survival, not only vital but also for the future. As the cinema has shown us more than once, recall "The boy who tamed the wind".

It is even an unsolved problem in megacities developed as a result of uncontrolled growth in the 20th century. Today we are witnessing, as an example, the proliferation of news about Mexico City, where water is becoming increasingly scarce in a city born on water and where rainy periods are frequent. We observe the existence of an inefficient supply system with numerous leakages. Or directly of its non-existence in many places, which leads to resort to wells and cisterns, with the consequent lack of guarantee of potability, and dependence on bottled water. Not to mention a non-existent or precarious sanitation system in a capital city with a high degree of development and where the evaluation of projects, because necessary, is not crazy and should be prioritized over others. Sustainable water management in the light of the climate crisis is becoming an increasingly pressing issue even in the most advanced countries of our surroundings, where we are witnessing the threat of water, as can be seen in the recent floods in France and Switzerland.

Related to this, there are projects of great interest. Planur-e presents in its newest issue two large surface projects related to water. Both cases refer to its recovery, one to its control and integration into the landscape and the second to the generation of a green-blue infrastructure of territorial interconnection that functions as a recreational space.

‘Zuidpolder Barendrecht’ in the Netherlands is in charge of opening this issue. It refers to a polder, an infrastructure that has historically allowed cities to exist below sea level. Their increasingly critical management makes them a central issue in planning, as water projects are transformed into ‘contemporary landscape architecture’. This project embodies a solution for the Rotterdam region, which is affected by saltwater intrusion from the Old Maas, making it necessary to store water during wet periods. The project becomes part of the region's green and blue infrastructure, combining the use of water, nature and leisure in a demonstration of resilience in adverse situations. The project sought to generate a multifunctional polder, a dam that retains fresh water and constitutes an oasis in an urban area with a high population density. An intelligent system for controlling the inflow and outflow of water that is, at the same time, a biodiverse, sustainable, beautiful and healthy space. The water treatment incorporates large, wooded areas, creating an alternation of open and closed spaces, while maintaining the meadows and livestock as an environmental and historical value.

Related to the previous theme we find ‘Wrapping the marsh’, a project that focuses on designing a green corridor of supra-municipal character that encompasses the protected area of the Odiel Marshes in Huelva, a place ‘with a great environmental, landscape, zoological, archaeological and heritage richness’. It incorporates an itinerary for which minimal interventions are proposed, implemented in a dynamic place where water enters and leaves rhythmically, and where the difference in height between high tide and low tide can reach 3.6m. A phenomenon like that occurs in polders but without the risk of the latter. The intervention acts on two aspects: the requalification of degraded urban-rural edges and non-motorized intermunicipal accessibility. In short, two different landscapes in two different latitudes which, by virtue of water, acquire similar characteristics.

This issue of planur-e features two projects that deal with the problem of open-pit stone mining in very different geographical and cultural situations: China and Mexico. One is in a natural environment with a vast area and the other sits in an urban periphery while maintaining a discreet size. The Chinese project presents a sober and austere proposal of sensitive beauty, while the Mexican is colorful, dynamic and baroque in accordance with the characteristics of the country. In both cases, the topography, materials and visuals are used in an ecological recovery program. Cantera Park in Mexico has a more playful aspect and incorporates sport activities for everyone, regardless of age and condition. There, vegetation plays a major role.

In the approach to the Tanghan quarry, winner of the Barcelona Landscape Biennial 2024, the aim is also to generate a recreational space, but based on an approach to knowledge and understanding of the site. The project has an educational purpose, so that visitors can experience the recovery process of nature in a damaged ecosystem. Restoration, stabilization and conservation actions are carried out on the rocky walls, together with the spontaneous growth of vegetation. Activities such as hiking are introduced, by means of a metallic structure that defines a route, viewpoints and adapts to the irregularity of the site. Water management is also scheduled for renaturation, reusing the sludge from the bottom of the craters as fertilizer in the surrounding meadows with three strategies: prioritizing spontaneous vegetation, controlling invasive species and promoting a vernacular biodynamic habitat.

The authors offer a final reflection derived from their own experience, stating that landscape design is a 'constantly changing process and not one or two quickly applied solutions. It is necessary to understand and explore a resilient and flexible design approach with full awareness of the complexity of nature'.

Planning plays an important role in the definition of a new model for La Palma, an island that boasts an important natural heritage acknowledged as a Biosphere Reserve. Recent legislation in the Canary Islands makes it possible to combine territorial and urban planning while enabling singular projects. In this case, a substantive model is proposed that defines the treatment of the island and also management, with the clear aim of implementing the concept of circularity in a highly sensitive territory.

Along the lines of the first two projects, the green and blue network of Elche is presented. The emblematic palm grove of this Spanish city, recognized as a World Heritage Site, is the starting point of the proposed network. A project that recovers the value of a fragmented and highly stressed place, just as the river Vinalopó, intended to be included in the network. A methodological approach is now presented, which aims to implement an integrated network in the whole of the city.

The last two projects have a very different character, one of them being open to nature and the other being enclosed in an urban core. The first one is in Brunete, a city subject to an excessive residential pressure increased by its status as a historic site. The intervention carried out in this place is a so-called ‘boundary project’, one that values the landscape conditions that have emerged from the urban-rural contact. Thus, the action tries to define this boundary zone, minimizing the environmental impact by integrating the natural and artificial elements present. Through the concepts of carving, reusing and breaking, the action is endowed with content. On the other hand, we find a more restrained project. It involves the arrangement of a square in a small Catalan municipality, in the place where the historic center and the Ensanche (urban expansion area) converge. The aim of the initiative is to minimize traffic while enhancing connections between local residents. It follows the path of introducing minor interventions that bring about substantial changes in the life of the places in relation to their size.

María A. Leboreiro

Nota Legal
Directora: María A. Leboreiro Amaro, Dra. Arquitecta
Secretario de dirección: Alberto Leboreiro Amaro, Dr. Arquitecto
Secretario de redacción: David Hidalgo Pérez, Arquitecto
Consejo de redacción:

Miquel Adriá, director de la revista Arquine

Carmen Andrés Mateo, Arquitecta

José Mª Ezquiaga Domínguez, Dr. Arquitecto. Profesor Titular de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Madrid

José Fariña Tojo, Dr. Arquitecto. Catedrático Emérito de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Madrid

Fernando Fernández Alonso, Arquitecto

Josep Mª Llop Torné, Arquitecto. Profesor en la Facultad de Geografía de la Universidad de Lleida

Llanos Masiá González, Arquitecta

Javier Ruiz Sánchez, Dr. Arquitecto. Catedrático de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Madrid

Edita: planur-e
Vergara, 12 4ºB Centro
28013 Madrid
Traducción: planur-e
ISSN: 2340-8235
Copyright: (2013): planur-e
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Planur-e: www.planur-e.es es una revista digital editada en España en materias de territorio, urbanismo, sostenibilidad, paisaje y diseño urbano. Nació con el objetivo de exponer buenas prácticas dando voz a los profesionales, planteando que sean los propios autores de los trabajos quienes los presenten. Se colabora así a su difusión, al tiempo que se ofrece, a aquellos que se aproximan al proyecto, la oportunidad de ver otras formas de trabajar y contrastar sus propias reflexiones y propuestas. Planur-e por sus características pretende llenar un hueco, dada la escasez de publicaciones en estas materias. Alcanza en este momento su número diez, con un planteamiento monográfico y da, al tiempo, en su Miscelánea cabida a múltiples temas. Cuenta ya con un número importante artículos alrededor de 150, hasta el momento, y con autores de muy distintos países, lo que enriquece su tarea de divulgación.

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  • Dirección: Vergara, 12 4ºB, 28013 Madrid
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