(April 2009) Cherry blossoms are blooming. At least that is the case in Madrid’s Avenida de Portugal, where once is not enough: here they are blossoming once on the trees, since it is spring, and again on the ground, all year round. The Dutch bureau West 8 urban design and landscape architects, and their Spanish colleagues Mrio arquitectos are responsible.
The project was born when the Avenida de Portugal, the most important thoroughfare between the Spanish capital and Portugal, was rerouted underground into a tunnel. Covering the concrete tunnel ceiling with a park lawn seemed too banal.
Instead the designers undertook a virtual journey from Madrid to Lisbon and brought back elements which the wayfarer would encounter. That is how the cherry trees, common in the Extremadura, and the mosaic cobblestones, which decorate Lisbon’s sidewalks, came together.
700 cherry trees were planted and their blossoms transposed to the pattern of the cobblestone between them. The work was carried out by Portuguese craftsmen from Granilouro company using basalt and limestone.
The over dimensional pattern was a challenge to the craftsmen, as patterns are usually small and geometric in shape. But the calceteiros sought help from above: they used the satellite navigation system GPS as a construction tool.
Photos: West 8 urban design & landscape architecture