IN: Inspiration


A world-class solution to a difficult site has resulted in the extraordinary landscape architecture of Valdefierro Park in Spain


What would you do if you were a landscape architect and you were presented with an incredibly steep, sloping site that had poor quality soil littered with mounds of builders’ rubble? And you were asked to make a public park?

Spanish architects Hector Fernandez Elorza and Manuel Fernandez Ramirez were given just such a challenge when asked to come up with a plan for a public plaza in the Valdefierro district of Zaragoza, Spain.


The 11-hectare location that they were tasked with was situated between the city and a canal. From the surrounding buildings of the neighbourhood located at the top of the park, there was a 9m slope down to the Imperial Aragon Canal at the bottom. Formerly, this site had been used as a gravel quarry and then later, became as a dumpsite for building debris. Instead of throwing in the towel, the architects picked up a trowel and used the very challenges presented to come up with an extraordinary solution. Instead of incurring the expense of carting away all the construction waste, they innovatively recycled this disused material by incorporating it into their building scheme. This decision not only resulted in a major cost saving for the project, it also led to its defining structures.


According to the architects: “such determining contextual factors: the gravel-bed debris (with those large gravel stones which at the time nobody wanted to use as gravel), the land-fill site (composed mainly from the rubble of former construction works in the city) and the pronounced topography of the site, led us to construct the project with the geometry of a system of walls.”


This system of walls was constructed by mixing the existing gravel and rubble with cement to make very thick, high walls in the style of Cyclopean masonry, which dates back to Mycenean architecture and is characterized by the use of large stones. The resulting 4m high walls are impressive to look at and break up the steep slope into a series of gentle terraces that serve to beautifully highlight the river landscape. What’s more, the walls provide shelter for areas of rest and recreation, where nooks and benches have been carved into their sides, and have also allowed for protection from the wind and the subsequent planting of trees.


In all, the very problems of the site have been the genesis of an intelligent solution aided by the sensitive and judicious use of concrete. For more info visit:

Photography is by Montse Zamorano.

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