The Park of the 99 Gardens – Valdebebas Park

April 2009, Madrid, Spain

We create a strategy of colonization, rather than a plan.
Carpet: As a tapestry, the new park will be delicately placed as a tapestry respecting the existing topography.
Artificial: The topography is the only natural thing. Artificiality will reign in the park. The visitor is aware that he is in an urban park. Orthogonal lines will contrast with the sinuosity of the adjacent Forest Park, and they form a transition to the new grid of the future city of Valdebebas.
Unstable: The combination of different species, deciduous and perennial, contributes to the unstable image of the park, which will change each season. The ‘garden of the question mark’ will forever be changing according to the decisions of its users.
Unfinished: The Park can start operating as soon as one of the 99 gardens is finished. Thereafter it will forever be a process of change – always unfinished.
Recognisable: The 99 squares, and the 1km bench, shape the image of the urban park. This will be recognised as well by the thousands of air passengers from terminal 4 next to the park that will view the park from the air, either right before landing or right after leaving Madrid.
Framed: Each garden has a completely different atmosphere. The visitor moves in an unfixed way, from room to room, without passing through a transitional space.
Narrative: The 99 gardens are inspired by 99 stories. These stories will be explained on a panel in each garden. The visitor, moved by curiosity, might delve deeper into the story after his visit.
Imaginative: Some of the gardens have no specific predetermined use, so the visitor will be inspired to use it as he wishes in unexpected ways.
Chaotic: The 99 gardens are 99 decontextualized landscapes.
Organized: The 99 gardens are clearly organized in an orthogonal structure following the rules of proportionality.
Contradictory: the garden combines instability with specificity; control and un-control; flexibility and rigidity; reality and fantasy; improvisation and discipline; realism and surrealism…
Resistant: The design strategy is resistant to changes of programme, usage, material, budget, planning, and design…
Illusory: Illusions of memory, history, order; illusion of a park.
The 1km Bench:
The orange bench is 1362 m long, and runs parallel to the main path. It is the only common element in the enormous existing diversity of the Park. Depending on the area, the bench may be used as table, path, bridge, stage, etc.
 ↑ image above: Le déjeuner sur l’herbe. 1862 – Manet

Mondriaan, 1921  –  Marrakech – The Earth from Above  –  Tulips field – the Netherlands

↑ Site of Valdebebas Urban Park. Terminal T4 from Madrid Barajas Airport on the right
99 Gardens:

Phases and uses:

The 1 km Bench:

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Title: The Park of the 99 Gardens – Valdebebas Park
Project name: Parque Urbano de Valdebebas – Valdebebas Urban Park
Date: April 2009
Type: Open International Competition
Organizer: OCAM + City Council of Madrid
Participants: 160 from 25 countries
Location: Madrid, Spain
Site: Valdebebas, area limited by: north with La Moraleja and the Encinar de los Reyes; south with IFEMA, and the Barajas Airport; west with Sanchinarro.
Programme: Urban park for sports, leisure and culture
Surface: 80 Ha
Status: Competition
Client: Junta de Compensación Parque de Valdebebas
Budget: N/A
Publications: Parque Urbano de Valdebebas, COAM, Madrid, Spain, September 2009
STAR Team: Beatriz Ramo, Jean-Vianney Deleersnyder, Jordi Milà, Albert Perez, Luca Vandini