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Valencia 2

Global Forces: Valencia (Spain)

Juan Reig

A large-scale recreational complex dedicated to the dissemination of science and culture in the city of Valencia
"La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias" (CAC) - promoted by the 'Generalitat Valenciana' (the Valencian regional government) in the city of Valencia - began in 1996 as a large-scale complex dedicated to the dissemination of science and culture. This start was the culmination of a process of institutional cooperation between the Generalitat Valenciana and the Valencia City Hall, initiated in 1988 with the General Urban Organization Plan (GUOP).

Geographical, Economic and Social Context
of the Region and the City
The CAC complex occupies a surface area of some 351,000 square feet and is 1,800 meters long. Nestled on mostly flat land, the complex is located on the rightbank of the final stretch of the old Turia riverbed. 
Historically used as farmland, the area has been in continuous decline since the 1970's due to the indiscriminate occupation of highly polluting chemical industries as well as by warehouses linked to activities at the nearby port. This land constituted a fringe area that was ripe for regeneration and incorporation into the city's structured development scheme. 
Previously, the area had been practically uninhabited due to its peripheral location and to its shortage of housing, as well as to the obsolete and dangerous nature of the industrial activity there. Public initiatives have consisted of regenerating the area, organizing it, developing it, and giving it an identity of its own by means of a new urban "facelift" which served, at the same time, to infuse new life into the immediate surroundings.
1991 saw the signing of an Urban Development Agreement between the Generalitat Valenciana and the Valencia City Hall for the management, programming and development of the tracts of land suitable for building, the 'Camino de las Moreras I' (the White Mulberry Tree Path I). 
This Agreement was the start of the urban development initiative known as the CIUDAD DE LAS ARTES Y LAS CIENCIAS. The management, promotion and development have been carried out by CAC, S.A., a public corporation belonging to the autonomous government which undertook to tackle the responsibilities of developing the land by formulating an Urban Development Plan of Action and of carrying out the planning and building of the complex.
The Urban Development Plan of Action's objectives could be summarized as aiming for:
Transformation of the land and development of the city's residual and interstitial areas, consolidating and lending a finished feel to outlying neighbourhoods.
Access for disused land to the process of urban development, allowing the GUOP's social function to be assured for the benefit of the public interest.
Construction of a large urban monument with recreational, cultural and scientific aims, which would be linked to its environment by means of all the structural elements associated with urban development.
Resolution of the completion of the city's road system, affected by chaotic and haphazard growth which made adequate communication difficult between the downtown and the port areas.
Boosting of the development of adjacent areas, motivating the private sector to join the process of urban development as envisaged in the General Plan.

Culture and Globalization
From a qualitative point of view, the CAC is structured around a prime objective, which is to be beneficial to society. The complex is a common meeting ground of everyone and for everyone: it is an open city in which people from all walks of life have a place, regardless of age, level of education, background or culture.
CAC will improve citizens' quality of life as, in addition to contributing highly varied cultural and recreational facilities, it will raise the level of the prestige of Valencia and of the Valencian Region and, in turn, the levels of participation and self-esteem of its inhabitants. In terms of its plan and accessibility, the CAC is open to all cultures and to all people. And nowadays, thanks to global technologies currently in use, through its architectural language and its lines of research, the CAC aims to showcase aspects of the Mediterranean and Valencian cultures. 
It is for this reason that as stances produced by trends in migration and their ensuing clashes with regional cultures are increasingly radicalized, and in the face of the dilemma between local cultures and globalization, the CAC has opted for an attitude of openness and integration. This attitude is precisely the same as that of the city of Valencia itself, historically open to all positive innovations and changes produced by such phenomena, while refusing to sacrifice its willingness to promote and develop its own culture with the aid of those means available to it in the 21st century. 

The main objective of Valencia's Strategic Plan is stated by the local government as:
'To make Valencia a green, European city, open to the sea; socially integrationist and culturally vibrant; the capital and backbone of the Valencian region and a link between European and peninsular cities and the Mediterranean, positioned for its industries to be highly competitive in the international market'.
1. The Valencian Region needed a project with an international scope which could transmit the image of a modern region, be able to carry out initiatives at the highest level and which, additionally, would serve to strengthen and complement, through public initiatives, the region's economic development.
2. That the Region needed to complement tourist services which (until the present and even now very significantly) were focused almost exclusively on the exploitation of natural elements such as the climate and sea ('sun and sand tourism') was considered to be self-evident. Our objective was to offer, in addition to the aforementioned, tourist facilities that were both cultural and urban in nature, combining elements of leisure and entertainment with the promotion of knowledge, culture and science.
With these premises as points of departure, the CAC was born out of a vision of a modern city at the service of its citizens, built within a thousand-year-old city such as Valencia. It would place the city itself and the region of which it is the capital in an ultramodern position at the forefront of international vitality, offering services related to art and science along with leisure and entertainment, making it a point of reference the world over.
Thus, three clear objectives were established:
1. To develop culture and the arts in all their manifestations.
2. To promote science and the correct use of technology.
3. To promote respect for, conservation of and admiration for nature.
To this end, a sequence of three subsectors were programmed: the 'Palau de les Arts' and Music Conservatory; 'L'Hemisfèric' (Imax cinema, Planetarium and Laserium), the 'Museo de la Ciencia', the 'Jardines de L'Umbracle' (sculpture garden) and parking area; and finally the 'Centro de Ocio' (recreation centre), 'L'Oceanogràfic' (an ocean park within an underwater city) and a tertiaryhotel area, all of which linked by a series of walkways and ponds, allowing for a pedestrian route through the city totalling nearly two kilometres in length.

Strategy and Results

In order to fulfil the objectives set, an overall plan of action was drawn up, consisting basically of:
The development of area-specific urban planning, as represented by the CAC's Partial Plan and the General Urban Organization Plan, to work in tandem with the programming of its execution in phases.
The founding of a public corporation equipped with the legal, economic and human support needed in order to be able to carry forward the promotion and management of the complex.
The design of a recreational, scientific and cultural plan which would include a variety of social entities along with their various operational styles, while at the same time featuring target audience profiles which were diverse but yet united by means of a sole managerial structure.
The design of avant-garde architecture, to constitute a worldwide point of reference and to add significant value to the region's architectural patrimony. In order to carry this out, the complex boasts ingenious contributions by internationally renowned Spanish architects Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela.
The design of a solid and forward-looking plan to put all components of the whole into working order and to adequately exploit the possibilities they offer.
The programming, over time, of a sequence of openings to the public of the project's buildings and components.
Opening its doors in 1998, 'L'Hemisfèric'allows visitors access to three large-scale audiovisual spectacles under the same roof: the Planetarium, the Imax Dome Cinema and the Laserium, in addition to a university lecture hall dedicated to education in astrophysics.
In November of 2000 the 'Museo de las Ciencias', covering some 40,000 square metres and responding to a truly 21st century concept of museums - that they be live and interactive -- was opened to the public. 
On a parallel, all citizens have at their disposition ample parking space, free areas constituted by walkways, and a spectacular sculpture garden called 'L´Umbracle'.
'L´Oceanogràfic' is an underwater city inhabited by over 500 different biological species, conceived of as a natural recreational park and as a centre dedicated to education and scientific research, especially of the Mediterranean marine environment. With an area of 80,000 square metres and 42 million liters of water, its inauguration is set for the beginning of 2002. 
The 'Palau de les Arts' is set to open to the public at the beginning of 2003. It will be a multiauditorium of 43,000 square metres which will house a chamber music hall, the main opera hall, and an open-air auditorium. 
In its immediate surroundings, a sizeable residential area has been generated with over 5,000 new homes in what had been, until now, a marginalized area of the city. The price of land has been reassessed, and is now 15% higher than in other areas of new development. Finally, public means of transport have increased with the approval of a new line of city trains, a new long-distance train station in the vicinity, and new bus lines. With 60% of the initiatives already completed, expectations regarding urban renewal have been surpassed by far.

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