Madrid park awarded prestigious Harvard prize for best urban design

Madrid Río park is the recipient of this year's prestigious Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design by Harvard University.

Madrid park awarded prestigious Harvard prize for best urban design
Madrid Río park. Photo: La Citta Vita / Wikimedia Commons.

Harvard's Graduate School of Design announced the award on Monday, with members of the prize jury calling it the embodiment of “the optimistic idea that design can be a transformative force”. 

“The decision to award Madrid Río the Green Prize in Urban Design was motivated by the jury’s desire to highlight the potential for thoughtfully planned and carefully executed mobility infrastructures to transform a city and its region,” wrote jury chair Rahul Mehrotra, Professor of Urban Design and Planning at Harvard's Graduate School of Design.

“The extent to which the project harnesses the deployment of new infrastructures as an opportunity to repair and regenerate the city through carefully articulated design interventions is particularly valuable within the context of contemporary urbanization globally.”

The Veronica Rudge award is given out biennially to projects around the world that make a “positive contribution to the public realm of a city” and that improve “the quality of urban life in that context,” according to the award's website.

Madrid's Río park project was first launched in 2005 to revive an area along the Manzanares River that had been largely neglected, formerly made up of tunnels dug to bury an old highway, the M-30.

Now it has been transformed into green space with sports areas, biking paths, gardens and even an “urban beach”.

The project also brought back to life historic dams and bridges.

“With these new river crossings and the incorporation of existing historic features into the new park plan, Madrid Río has strengthened surrounding neighborhoods’ connection to the new amenities and to each other,” the graduate school wrote in its announcement.

The park was opened to the public in 2011 and was fully completed earlier this year.
The $50,000 (€46,500) prize money will be split among the project's four main architect groups in Madrid and Rotterdam. 

Previous winners of the Veronica Rudge award include the Metro do Porto transit project in Portugal and the Northeastern Urban Integration Project in Medellín, Colombia, both in 2013.

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Norway business sees ‘huge opportunity’ in green transition

Three-quarters of the leaders of big Norwegian companies now believe that the transition to a green economy represents a significant business opportunity, a new survey has found.

Norway business sees 'huge opportunity' in green transition
Sverre Overå, project director for Northern Lights, in front of the Northern Lights template. (Photo: Arne Reidar Mortensen)
When the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise polled business leaders ahead of its annual conference next month, 74 percent of those leading companies with more than 100 employees said they saw opportunities in the coming green transformation. 
“Carbon capture and storage is one example. You also see investments in batteries, hydrogen and offshore wind,” the lobby group's chief executive, Ole Almlid, told state broadcaster NRK
“I hope we end up remembering 2020 as the year when Norwegian business and industry finally properly understood the great opportunities that lie in climate change.” 
Almlid said that the coronavirus crisis promised to accelerate the shift, with 30 percent of the European Union's €750 billion coronavirus recovery package going towards European Green Deal projects. 
“The restructuring will go much faster, because it comes after such a crisis, and then it will go much more in the direction of a greener business community,” he said. 
NRK cites the the US aluminium producer Alcoa as a company which could benefit, with Norway well positioned to lead the shift towards zero-carbon aluminium. 
“We have two competitive advantages: We often have low prices for electricity, and we produce clean aluminium. We use renewable electricity from water and wind. The rest of the world mostly uses gas and coal,” said Ole Løfsnæs, who leads the confederation's energy department. 
Alcoa is working on a revolutionary smelting technology which would use renewable electricity rather than coke. 
On December 15th, the Norwegian Government announced its decision to fund the Northern Lights project, which will see 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 stored per year in a depleted gas field in the Northern North Sea. 
Across the border in Sweden, big industry is already pushing ahead, with state-owned iron ore producer LKAB planning to invest 400bn Swedish kronor (€40bn) over the next 15–20 years to switch its entire production from iron ore pellets to hydrogen-reduced sponge iron. 
This would preventing LKAB’s customers from releasing 35m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. 
Together with steel producer SSAB, LKAB aims to set up demonstration plant which by 2026 will produce one million tonnes of zero-carbon sponge iron.