A harmonious environment for the dynamism of the office.

"The gardens are a paradise with its roots in hell".

Lucia Serredi

The private company Renazca, which is leading the refurbishment of Madrid's Azca financial centre, has unveiled the winners of the competition for the design of the project. It is a proposal submitted by the New York-based architecture practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro, together with the British landscape architects Gustafson Porter + Bowman and the Spanish partner b720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos.

A harmonious environment for the dynamism of the office. 1

The central idea of the project is to deploy a landscaped area - defined as a "large green meadow" or an "urban carpet" - in the Azca superblock. The green carpet will consist of a large central garden and fifteen micro-parks between the buildings. The park will include indigenous plant species, it was announced. The images seen at the presentation showed an environment with a profusion of water, as well as lawns, trees, flowers, pergolas and pavilions for various uses.

When the word carpet is used, it evokes those rooms in the house, those rooms where we are more us , where we relax and interact with our people without defined purposes. This new financial centre will connect the buildings through a multi-purpose lobby that will favour the inner progress of the workers. The contemplation of nature plus a fresh produce market, a children's playground, an outdoor library, a sculpture garden, cafés and bars, a greenhouse, an outdoor co-working area and a Fab lab (a space for the production of material objects using digitally controlled technology).

However, we are concerned that one of the renderings shows the celebration of an open-air concert with up to ten thousand people on that carpet. Just across the Paseo de la Castellana, Real Madrid, which has been taking care of its lawn for more than a hundred years, is building a wild and very expensive structure in order to hide, in strips, its glorious pitch so as to be able to gather crowds between the goals without damaging the grass. This contradiction seems paradoxical to us.

And another issue. There have been some complaints alleging that insufficient attention has been paid to the participation of the country's architectural studios. Fermín Vázquez rejects this idea: "The important thing is not the architects, but the projects". We fully agree with this sentence, but is it really a suitable project for Madrid? Is there any garden, swimming pool or field in Madrid where green really grows like a carpet and Tangana fans, for example, can dance on it? Does the green carpet belong to this city? Does it have anything to do with the gardens of the capital or is it rather a project that can be placed anywhere on the planet? These objections are not chauvinistic but show that we still believe in genius locci. We believe that the spirit of the place must be respected, and even more, that it must be distinguished. In any case, we wish this new project the best of futures.

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