South Madrid and High Speed. An example of symbiosis
The process of transformation of Madrid‐Puerta de Atocha station runs parallel with the evolution of the urban space around. Railway was early implemented in an area outside the city wall that had been the object of important urban projects in the 18th and 19th century.
Throughout the 20th century, Atocha area concentrated a significant number of public buildings, cultural and teaching facilities, presided by the General Hospital and its ancillarybuildings.
A project by Alberto del Palacio provided in 1892 the iron canopy, whose tympanum has beenthe iconic image of the station since.
After decades of dereliction of the area and serious threats to heritage buildings on the mid 20th century, a new sensitivity towards industrial architecture appeared on the 70’s. This fact helped to preserve the historic station and made it the terminal for the new HS line Madrid –Seville.
The improvement of the commuter network in the 80’s and the implementation of the new High Speed line in 1992 meant a revolutionary change into citizens’ perception of railway and a key dynamic factor on railway renewal on the 21st century. Atocha is nowadays the undisputed top railway passengers’ hub in the country.
A parallel process of urban renovation and cultural concern triggered the implementation ofcultural facilities such as the Prado Museum enlargement, the appearance of new ones, such as the Thyssen‐Bornemisza and Reina Sofia Art Center, and the successive creation of other complementary ones that turned the area into the Golden Triangle of Art, one of the highest concentration of world‐class art galleries on Earth. Private investments have taken advantage of the situation and enhanced retail and accommodation sectors. Atocha has obviously benefited from the quality improvement of its surroundings.
In summary: HS success relies not only on its obvious technical and operational advantages, but also on the boundary conditions of its main destination.
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