Various international activities have transformed transport infrastructures into urban parks for the enjoyment of neighbours.
Madrid Nuevo Norte will be built over the Chamartín train station railyard to create a large park, while the rail infrastructure will continue to be used.
Rail tracks, airport runways and roads are transport infrastructures designed to connect and bring together. However, paradoxically, engineering works have often been a barrier between urban areas, splitting and isolating one side from the other.
The strategic importance of these medium- and long-distance means of transport and their enormous benefit for people and local economy, as well as for the urban economy, impinges on the need to connect the residents of a city.
Several actions have defied this limitation that affects the mobility of many people, creating new public spaces where once there was only asphalt or roads. Madrid is home to an iconic restoration of pedestrian infrastructure. It is none another than the undergrounding of the M-30 ring road, opened in 2011, which enabled the recovery of the Manzanares River environment and its enjoyment by residents and visitors to Madrid.
Madrid will soon have another project, Madrid Nuevo Norte, which will bring together the historically divided neighbourhoods in the north of the capital, while maintaining operative the railway network on which hundreds of commuter, medium- and long-distance trains run. Undergrounding will not be necessary in this case: Owing to the relative height of the railyard vis-à-vis adjacent neighbourhoods, the railyard between the M-30 ring road and Chamartín train station will be covered with a large deck to create a large urban park over the rail tracks. The result will be an ample, iconic public space in Madrid that was wasted for decades, and will now become a new hub of activity and leisure, and a benchmark for 21st-century Madrid.
The situation with disused transport infrastructures is very different. Over time, some rail lines, roads and even airport runways located in cities worldwide become obsolete and abandoned, turning into areas that are inaccessible to citizens, and often hidden from the public view. In recent years, several initiatives worldwide have sought to recover these spaces as new urban parks, leveraging or restoring the vegetation that, over time has spontaneously, grown in these areas.
Restoring and making accessible to the citizens the spaces that are no longer used for the intended purpose, while highlighting the poetic side of the abandoned ruins overgrown by vegetation are some of the goals sought by the Schoeneberger Sudgelande Nature Park in Berlin. Opened to the public in 1999, visitors can walk along the old rail tracks, partially covered with moss, imprisoned by the roots of birches and other trees.