As part of creating a modern city, the architect Martin Wagner, who was commissioned to plan the city of Berlin from 1925 to 1933, set himself the objective of providing residents – particularly working class residents – with an opportunity to be in contact with nature. Wagner felt that one way of doing this was to provide access to lakes and rivers as recreational spaces, and he thus took measures to keep these areas open to the city as a public resource. This was to be an important milestone in the history of urban planning and demonstrates how the links between water and infrastructure are not merely a matter of public health; they relate to democratising access to the urban space, providing the public with an opportunity to enjoy urban nature.

This research project focuses on water as a key element within the inhabited space of the Community of Madrid, as well as the challenges it presents for landscape architecture. It explores the complex perceptions and meanings associated with building waterscapes and the challenges that lie ahead when it comes to improving urban public spaces by introducing water as a structural design factor.

The case studies were: the system of streams within Madrid, the Manzanares Canal, the Manzanares River Linear Park, Pontón de la Oliva, the Canal de Isabel II reservoirs, the Gavia Park, the redevelopment of the Valdebebas Woodland Park, Casa de Campo, the hydrological system at the Monastery of El Paular, the water cycles at the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Idelfonso, the Imón Salt Mine and the Brihuega Cloth Factory.