The historic city of Alcalá de Henares, located in the valley of the Henares River in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula, has been one of those cities that has grown excessively since the 1960s. Six decades in which urban expansion has built districts without the required planning and has fragmented the recognition of a landscape identity that is scattered and reduced to residual transit.

The City Council, under this narrative and in collaboration with the ADORAS atelier architecture team, initiates a process to reformulate the dialogue between the city and the green areas of District V. This is how the project for the renovation of Parque Andalucía was born. An area inaugurated in 1993 that, over the years, has become a place of transit for the neighbours and has been detached from its main function: to provide a friendly and safe space which invites people to stay and, in turn, to belong.

The ADORAS proposal is based on a previous diagnosis approached from different perspectives and a deep process of community listening. Our mission was to return the park to its primary function of being, creating a space of high ecological value and social cohesion focused on the user and the roots of its lost identity: the Henares River and the Puerta Andalucía.

The park was dominated by hard transit areas (4.665m2) as opposed to green areas (1.861m2). When it came to giving new life to the park, it was designed as a green carpet full of meadows and trees, while the paths were reduced to a minimum, creating only one accessible diagonal path – which was the one most used by the residents – and another smaller one across the bus stop.  A thorough landscape study was carried out to enhance the park’s biodiversity, expanding the flowerbeds and vegetation and introducing new shrub species ordered by water requirements to improve irrigation efficiency. As a result, green areas have been increased by 4.896 m2 and hard surfaces have been reduced by 1.630 m2.

Beyond providing these outdoor plant spaces, the park is linked to the historical fabric to recover its identity. Thus, two elements that refer to its origin are enhanced: the Henares River and the Puerta Andalucía. For the first of them, and as an integrating element of the whole proposal, an elevated luminous pergola is designed that sinuously runs around the park, resembling the course of the Henares River. This lighting is designed as a functional sculptural element that gives identity and a sense of belonging to an entire neighbourhood. For the second, two actions are carried out that allow the park to rediscover its Andalusian roots. On the one hand, the Puerta de Andalucía, a small replica of Madrid’s Puerta de Alcalá with Andalusian patterns such as white stucco and tiles, has been given greater prominence and has been enhanced by an integral mural by an Andalusian muralist. And, on the other hand, a flamenco “tablao” has been incorporated as a central dance floor that enhances the value of one of the most recognized arts outside our borders.

The study of the environment and the social listening process allowed us to know a social and generational diversity that helped us to establish a wide range of uses for the park. Thus, we created a naturalized space designed to be enjoyed by everyone and not only as a place to pass through. The improved lighting with the installation of the luminous pergola allows the park to be enjoyed not only during the day, but also at night, when the continuous light beam that replicates the meanders of the Henares River is illuminated over the users. The dance floor encourages interaction and the playful-festive nature of the park, as do the open areas, where children can play and engage in sports activities. The park has also been designed with pets in mind, creating a canine area. The park also incorporates furniture designed specifically for the project: the Kaze Bench. This concrete bench is conceived as a multigenerational element, as it is a park surrounded by three schools with students of different ages. Thanks to its morphology, inspired by the movements of the air, it allows different forms of rest, social interaction and even play.

Parque Andalucía is an example of how green areas can listen to the needs of urban environments and give them back a lost space and value, but above all, give them an identity and a sense of belonging to the whole neighbourhood.


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