Sep '06 - Dec '09
I am in Spain now in the research trip for studio. So far it has been a very busy schedule waking up everyday around 7:00 AM and either going to lectures on anything from water quality to urban planning in world heritage cities in Spain or traveling up and down the river and taking pictures. We end our day eating at the typical time for dinner in Spain, about 10PM and ending everyday at 12AM. It has been intense but very informative and even fun largely thanks to the lively and diverse group (In a group of 16 we have 11 countries represented and all design programs at the GSD, with myself as the lone architecture student).
As I mentioned before, we are looking at the Rio Tajo from the historic king's summer palace in the city of Aranjuez going through Toledo and ending up in Talavera de la Reina. Although this is the main focus, the group is also looking at the Manzanares and Jarama rivers that go through Madrid and go into the Tajo full of sewage.
Google Map of Trip
-We visited the Metropoli foundation in their beautifully crafted and thought Eco-box. They do some real interesting urban planning work with communities.
-We then went up to the Jarama looking at gravel extraction sites, urban sprawl at its worst, and sewer pumps into a major river that over 3 million people depend on.
-This was the site of the king's summer palace. The place is a world heritage city and it is trying to cope how to be a historic city and grow as any contemporary city wants to.
-This beautiful historic city has a plan to build an entire residential complex for commuters into Madrid at its foothills (lower vega) possibly ruining the views into the old city. Tourism has caused the city to create HUGE malls.
Mall outside Toledo - the future?
Talavera de la Reina
-Among one of the oldest cities in Spain with Celtic, Visigoth, Roman, Muslim, and Christian history that you can see by looking at its infrastructure. The river was always important and enjoyed but because of the quality of water (thanks to the sewers of Madrid) and through some less than thoughtful buildings the city now seems to reject the river.
New civic buildings in Talavera: turning their back to the river
Issues I am interested in looking at closer:
-Population boom in the Madrid region (which is spreading to Castilla La Mancha) that is leading to suburban sprawl.
-Climate Change and its effects. The water levels in the river have been coming down every year since 1970's.
-Immigration, as Spaniards leave small towns and rural areas and join the population boom of Madrid the immigrants take over the lands. Are there potentials for problems in both urbanized and rural areas over immigration? How can plans, landscapes and buildings acknowledge the historic change in culture?
-How can historic cities grow without endangering or making a theme park ghetto out of their past?
I am enjoying this studio and I am hoping to take with me the methodology of looking at very large scale systematic issues for any given design problem. Now I gotta get outta here and explore Toledo (pictures of the construction site of Moneo's building in the wall of Toledo to come...)