Aesthetic Vs. functional restoration of urban and peri-urban rivers: the Manzanares River in Madrid

Fernando Magdaleno


The Manzanares River (Madrid, Spain) is living an ongoing process of transformation, essential if we understand the number and intensity of human pressures it has experienced during the last decades. It is also a paradigmatic case study of the present debate about the most suitable restoration approaches of urban and peri-urban rivers: aesthetic-based or functional-oriented alternatives have been proposed in different urban sites worldwide. This work analyses when and how those approaches can be used, which should be selected under the light of the present knowledge on urban rivers, and in what conditions they can coexist. All these questions have been addressed for the specific case of the Manzanares River, allowing some insights which can be transferred to other urban and peri-urban rivers, both in Mediterranean and non-Mediterranean areas. In this work, we propose a multi-functional approach to urban rivers, considering the importance of providing self-sustaining actions, which can rehabilitate essential river processes inside the city, and which offer relevant ecosystems services to the urban citizens. With that aim, we list and present some of the measures which are being taken in the Manzanares River to reach those goals. Among them, rehabilitation of relevant hydromorphologic processes, allowance of natural river forms to develop inside the riverbed, re-connection of the urban reach with upstream and downstream semi-natural and protected river reaches, improvement of riparian stands, and rehabilitation of the river corridor to allow the improvement of the ecological, landscape and recreational connectivity.


urban rivers; riverfronts; river restoration; Madrid

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CSE Journal - City Safety Energy is a semiannual journal (Two ISSUES per Year) published by Le Penseur in Brienza (PZ) - Italy | ISSN print edition 2283-8767 | ISSN online edition 2284-3418 - Journal registerd at the Court of Potenza (Italy) n. 219/2014