Thursday, February 5, 2009

Valencia, Spain - Turia Gardens

Detail of Santiago Calatrava's gardens  for... The City of Arts & Sciences

Photos copyright © Alice Joyce

Ricardo Bofill's minimalist design for a section of the Turia.
Valencia's Turia Gardens
A city  of tantalizing contrasts, Valencia beckons. Stroll the vibrant town center amid ancient Roman ruins, and you may find yourself surprised by elements of 21st century garden artistry.  There's a newfound panache to this city which extends to its port, an elegantly rejuvenated area where the 2007 America's Cup competition was held. The seafront commands attention with an array of chic restaurants, glittery hotels, and broad promenades giving rise to atmospheric displays of palm trees and lavish flower beds.

Yet, long before the media began trumpeting the America's Cup, Valencia's Turia Gardens attracted international attention, and prompted me to plan a trip to Spain to see the project.

The Turia's transformation can be traced to 1957, when flood waters devastated the Ciutat Vella, the historic district, and brought chaos to the province. In an effort to avoid another such deluge, the government diverted the Turia river, relocating its watercourse. Rather than turn the dry river bed into a highway - a proposal rejected by the citizenry - an inspired alternative came about: A public green zone - the Turia Gardens.

Renowned architect Ricardo Bofill assumed a primary role in the Turia's overall planning during the 1980s, envisioning a green sward meandering around and through Valencia on a path toward the sea. The transformation would be pivotal in the history of Valencia and its people, infusing the city with a renewed energy. 

I'll be writing more about the Turia's design, Calatrava's eye-opening contribution to Valencia's architecture, the city's historic gardens, and a visionary public park located near the botanical garden.

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1 comment:

  1. The Citizenry truly did know their City! Thank goodness the planners failed with a road.

    I look for to the next installment.