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Competition: Alicante coastal corridor, Spain

Alicante City Council has announced an open international contest to remasterplan its 20km-long coastline (Deadline: 7 May)

The two-stage competition seeks proposals for a new ‘coastal passage’ stretching from Elche to El Campello district, creating multi-purpose public spaces that promote biodiversity and accessibility.

The project, backed by the Department of Urbanism and the Tourist Board of the City of Alicante, aims to enhance local safety and sustainability by integrating new interventions into existing waterfront infrastructure. New artistic, recreational and sculptural elements are planned to reinforce the area as a major cultural hub, transforming Alicante’s existing beaches and marinas into competitive modern tourist destinations.

Alicante coastal corridor

Alicante coastal corridor

Alicante coastal corridor

According to the brief: ‘The objective of the competition is to redefine, from a global vision of the coastal territory, the relationship between Alicante and the sea and to value and connect with each other and with the city, the tourist, environmental, landscape, cultural and urban resources of the coastal edge in the framework of sustainability and accessibility.

‘The purpose of the coastal passage shall be firstly to provide the city with a public space of environmental and material quality in which they have room, and to facilitate leisure, sports and cultural activities; and secondly, to generate connectivity along the coast, and from this with the urban territory.’

Alicante is a busy Mediterranean Sea port in south-eastern Spain on the Costa Blanca. It is a popular cruise liner stop, receiving more than 70 vessels with 100,000-plus passengers every year. The city’s port authority has recently opened a second harbour basin to the south, and plans to extend its influence by delivering additional infrastructure with support from local public institutions in the coming years.

The local government receives EU funding to promote the regeneration of its coastal areas. Urban renewal proposals for the major Spanish port are expected to influence similar projects in other port cities and create learning opportunities for other city developers.

Alicante coastal corridor

Alicante coastal corridor

Alicante coastal corridor

The contest’s technical brief outlines 20 separate coastal development sites, ranging in length from 150m up to 3km. New viewpoints and observation platforms will boost contact with nature and enhance the beach experience, while consistent landscaping styles and diverse public spaces will integrate the new urban passages with existing areas, which will also be improved.

Last year, the city held a design competition for a new café, meeting and communication space inside the popular Las Cigarreras cultural venue, which occupies a restored tobacco factory. The winning CNC timber design by Tomás Amat Studio was inspired by a cicada insect resting in a garden space.

Participating teams must feature professionally qualified architect, engineer and environmental scientist members, capable of managing project delivery. The judging panel will include leading urban planners and municipal officials, hotel and tourism board directors, regional architectural experts and representatives of the local port authorities.

Five shortlisted teams will receive €10,000 each to participate in the contest’s design phase and compete for a €40,000 top prize.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 7 May

Contact details

Department of Urbanization
Ayuntamiento de Alicante
5 Plaza del Ayuntamiento
03002 Alicante
Spain

Email: corredor.litoral@alicante.es
Tel: +34 965 14 81 94

View the competition website for more information

Q&A with Jaume Chicoy and Ruben Bodewig

The competition organisers reflect on their ambitions for the project

Why is the Board of Tourism holding an ideas contest to reimagine Alicante’s coastal corridor?

The competition organiser is the Municipality of Alicante, and managed directly not only by the Board of Tourism, but also by the Urbanism Department of the city. This reflects the open wide range of disciplines that are involved in a city transformation like this. A new coastal corridor would affect not only the landscape and urbanism of the city, it would introduce improvements in the economy, environment, mobility, and of course, tourism, which is our main industry, and very related with the sea and the climate.

What is your vision for the future of Alicante’s coastal corridor?

The most important thing for us is to provide a competition without conceptual limits, to offer the competitors a white paper to dream their own proposal and give us ideas that we could have never dream about. The competition is asking the participants to provide a clear and continuous solution that could be applied to the different sections of the 22km of coast, providing a continuous path that could be enjoyed in multiple ways. This design should be flexible, in order to adapt to different sections, heights and kinds of section (urban, natural…) Our vision is a sustainable project, which offers an iconic and continuous image for the waterfront, which offers viewpoints, places to touch, feel and experience the sea, and spots to create spaces where the corridor is a place to stay, with facilities for sports, leisure, culture … and not only a place to pass through. It should be a path to join all the things happening in the waterfront of the city, and also to create new ones. The architectural quality is fundamental to providing a solution that will create the identity of a city for the next decades. From the urban scale to the material selection of the details, the project should be thought as a whole concept that will be associated with the concept of ‘Alicante’.

Alicante coastal corridor

Alicante coastal corridor

Alicante coastal corridor

What sort of architects are you hoping will apply?

We expect teams of any kind of participants. This is why the competition balances the professional background of the teams valuing their previous experience in similar works, and also the innovation and courage of new proposals of young professionals that could offer a fresh and unique vision. This competition has such unique and particular characteristics that multidisciplinary teams are required to conceive a complete proposal that considers all the aspects on which it works: city, landscape, nature, architecture … Of course, smaller practices can join with larger ones to create more prepared teams, but it’s not a necessary requirement to have possibilities. The important thing will be the quality of the project and its capacity to transform and improve the city.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects be procured?

The city of Alicante is nowadays planning its future for the next 10-20 years with a new General Urban Planning strategy, and of course, it will include the content resulting from the competition to give it an urban frame where it can be developed. In this scenario, Alicante is planning to create more architectural and urban competitions to solve the historic needs of the city and create new opportunities to grow in a new way, more related to the sustainability and the best urban design. For example, the Urbanism Department is planning to promote competitions to design the central park placed in the plot of the former train tracks, the biggest open space in the core of the city, and our last opportunity to create a strategic green area. It’s also expected to offer competitions to recover historic buildings, part of the historically forgotten and underestimated cultural and architectonic heritage of the city.

Alicante coastal corridor

Alicante coastal corridor

Alicante coastal corridor

Are there any other similar projects involving the renewal of coastal corridors you have been impressed by?

There are hundreds of references we could provide as linear landscape corridors, not only related with waterfronts. We could talk about Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s project for the High Line of New York, West 8’s operation in Madrid Rio, the EMF landscape restoration in Cap de Creus (Gerona, Spain) or a closer and smaller project: Carme Pinós waterfront promenade in Torrevieja. Many proposals could fit if it offers a bright new future to Alicante with the requirements of the competition.

Ayr riverside case study: Q&A with Níall McLaughlin Architects

The London-based practice discusses lessons learned re-masterplanning the waterfront in Ayr, Scotland

How will your Ayr riverside project contribute to the revitalisation of riverfront area?

The location of the River Side Block in Ayr has significant potential for the future of the town and its plans to instigate a renaissance within the wider area. The site sits between the High Street to the south and the River Ayr to the north. The view from the river is flanked by two bridges and the magnificent steeple of the town hall can be seen in the background. Large brick volumes built in the 60s and formerly occupied by department stores, now sit empty and conceal its potential from the public eye. The aim of this masterplan is to create a new quarter for the town that returns the River Ayr to the public awareness, by celebrating it and making it a focal point. New landscaped public spaces will surround the river on four sides, and allow it to become a place for festivities and events. A town square and a river square will create new public spaces and provide new connections and views between the High Street and the river’s edge. Vennels will open up informal pedestrian connections throughout the site from all directions, providing a maximum of accessibility and permeability. It is envisaged that the river walk, currently terminating upstream at the Old Bridge, will connect across the site, eventually running all along the river to the sea. A festival building will act as the focus for public activity and will provide sheltered space for public events. The massing of the adjacent buildings is carefully arranged so that, despite the northern aspect, a maximum of sunlight and daylight reaches the river edge and the squares. From across the river a distinctive elevation will provide a recognisable frontage.

Ayr riverside masterplan by Níall McLaughlin Architects

Ayr riverside masterplan by Níall McLaughlin Architects

Ayr riverside masterplan by Níall McLaughlin Architects

Which architectural, material and other methods did you harness in your design?

The masterplan and studies investigated the site in great detail, seeking to understand its importance to both the regeneration of the modern town, and the heritage in which it sits. The proposals have sought to retain elements of the character on the site in terms of high street enclosure and massing, also reintroducing historic concepts typical of Ayr such as the vennels and river fronting gables. The masterplan presents a high-quality vision for the site in terms of quality in design and materials, but also quality in public interaction on the site. The masterplan presents a framework which is deliverable and sets an appropriate level of detail and flexibility to ensure subsequent detailed applications can be delivered in a way which maintains the overarching vision for the site.

Existing riverside elevation

Existing riverside elevation

What advice would you have to contest participants on upgrading Alicante’s coastal corridor and improving connections to the sea?

Obtaining a deep understanding of any site, its specific site conditions and history is essential. The results of this analysis will create multiple challenges and friction when the often very complex requirements of a masterplan brief are juxtaposed. It is during this iterative process when the clarity of concepts and vision must be maintained or recalibrated but not compromised.

Gardens by the Bay case study: Q&A with Andrew Grant

The director at Grant Associates discusses lessons learned designing a new waterfront park in Singapore

How did your competition-winning Gardens by the Bay project contribute to the revitalisation of Singapore’s coastal area?

The Gardens by the Bay competition was looking for exciting ideas for 100ha of land wrapping around Marina Bay. The intention was to define a new waterfront landscape that would become a landmark destination for the city and a high quality recreational space to relieve the intensity of the emerging built development of the expanding city centre. The 54ha Bay South project was completed in 2012 and has created an international profile for Singapore attracting over 5 million visitors a year to the gardens.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Source: Image by Craig Sheppard

Gardens by the Bay

Which landscape architectural methods did you harness in your design?

You always have to start with an understanding of the physical, ecological and cultural qualities of the place. In this instance we were dealing with reclaimed land with many issues of ground stability, drainage, exposure to the coast and limited infrastructure. In effect we had to create this place from scratch, and this allowed us to develop the many layers of integrated design that make the project the success it has become. The aspiration was to define and nurture a new ecosystem for the site that managed water, energy, resources, biodiversity in an intelligent way while creating a three-dimensional spatial experience that showcased the world of plants and the horticulture of Singapore in radical news ways.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Source: Image by Craig Sheppard

Gardens by the Bay

What advice would you give to designers preparing a submission for the Alicante coastal corridor competition?

Learn about and respect the coastal environment and how people have engaged with it through history. Draw sections through the coastline and reflect on the different microclimates you can achieve as you move from open sea to shelter inland. Look for opportunities to create visual and spatial drama that will become a string of memorable moments Work with the natural environment to find the appropriate habitats, colours and materials. Dream of your future in that place and discover what you would like to see there.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay