Benidorm's seafront lives on
By Mario Pisani
The Spanish city of Benidorm, which is situated in the Valencia region was modernised in 2009, after undergoing major construction works on it's waterfront. With the development of the tourism industry, Benidorm has become an increasingly populous urban area for the Mediterranean climate, almost subtropical, with mild winters and hot summers. Within a few decades the city has undergone a radical transformation; both economically and in terms of urban development. As a result it has about 270,000 inhabitants and is often referred to as the “Spanish Rimini”.
The city is one of the most paradigmatic examples of an urban center; where Europeans holiday and overindulge in the seafront entertainment. Although the benefits to the economy are undisputed, the downside to so many tourists gathering in a relatively condensed urban area resulted in large scale abandonment and damage to large areas that for a longtime were agricultural. The massive presence of holidaymakers for a few months in the year also makes it difficult to maintain the upkeep of public facilities.
Carlos Ferrater known for being the author of the Botanical Garden in Barcelona and now a Professor of Architectural Design at the Technical University in Catalonia, took on the waterfront project with the same strategy in place as he had for the Botanical Garden in Barcelona. "The idea is to organize the waterfront through floors and surfaces that intersect, approach and move away, change the level by producing new platforms from concave and convex courses, a sort of dynamic flowing fluid without invading the sandy surface," explained Ferrater.
The development takes on a very specific nature and size through a series of fabrics that are woven together and follow few certain geometric rules. If you look at one of the first sketches it's clear that the initial input was the image of a braid of hair that follows the coastline. Ferrater produced one of the most imaginative responses to redesigning the way tourists can walk in the various seaside resorts, looking at the extraordinary spectacle of the surf and sun cycle movement.
In this way, the mile walk on the eastern shore becomes totally different from anything in other parts of the world. The intervention is not only a line of protection, a barrier, a wall between the city and the sea, but a public place for people to exercise or enjoy a stroll with their families. So the memory of the wave forms a natural honeycomb that produces surfaces that play with light and shadow, showing how architecture is a wonderful adventure.