London-based landscape architects Gustafson Porter, a London-based landscape architecture firm, won the design competition for the 66-hectare Parque Central in Valencia, the third largest city in Spain. Gustafson Porter partnered with Borgos Pieper architects, Nova Ingeniería Project Management, and Grupotec Engineers to beat 35 teams from eight countries, including major competition like Zaha Hadid and West 8. According to Bustler, Mayor Rita Barberá called the 73 million Euro project a “historic milestone in the city’s urban development.”
Spain has invested heavily in high speed rail and combining new transportation infrastructure with urban redevelopment. However, instead of using the redevelopment plans to simply add more commercial buildings, the city has made public space a key component of revitalization in the city’s core. The new contemporary park will sit on top of rail lines. “More than half of the available site will be planted, and a new 23-hectare Central Park will become the heart of Valencia’s most important redevelopment project to date.”
Mary Bowman, Director of Gustafson Porter, described the project: “The Valencia Central Park […] will dramatically improve the quality of life for residents by creating 23 hectares of gardens, large green open spaces, play areas and cultural and educational activity spaces within the heart of the city. A new residential quarter with neighbourhood parks and gardens covering another 43 hectares forms part of this ambitious project. It is fantastic that a landscape project has been given this level of prominence in the redevelopment of the city.”
Bustler writes that the new design will “celebrate the landscape and culture of the Valencia region,” which is framed by the diverse ecological habitats around the site: “the Turia River reserve, the agricultural plain (La Huerta), the Albufera natural park, and the Mediterranean.” In addition, the culture of ceramics served as an inspiration. “The concept of the ‘bowl’ incorporates the unifying gesture of the park with water as the overarching design theme. Its shape represents the idea of containers. Each of these containers holds art, activities, people, landscapes, history and cultural memories.”
The project will include a plaza for redesigned buildings, art centre, library, visitor center, and natural amphitheatre (seen directly above). There will be a variety of gardens, including the Huerta Garden, which will be “planted terraces;” Flower Garden, a “formalized avenue;” Children’s Garden, offering spaces for playing; an exhibition of Mediterranean Gardens, a “new glass house next to a terraced landscape of Mediterranean plants;” and a perfume garden featuring fragrant plants. A set of new plazas will connect components of the park and feature water elements and tree-lined promenades.
Image credit: (1) Valencia Parque Central Masterplan / Gustafson Porter, (2) Proposed Amphitheatre / Gustafson Porter