Here is the “Worlds Longest Bench” according to the The Cool Hunter :
“As much as we love temporary stunts, happenings, art installations and large-scale sculpture in the urban space, we want more.”
We are on a quest for truly transformed urban spaces. We are looking for instances where a council, city, town, municipality has taken the initiative, come up with the funds and actually transformed a mediocre, unused, ugly space into an inviting and fun public environment.
The spectacular reincarnation of High Line in New York from an impossibility to a cool urban environment comes to mind. Or the transformation of an ugly view-blocking concrete barricade between skyscrapers and beach to a colorful seaside promenade at Paseo Marítimo de la Playa Poniente in Benidorm, Spain.
Or the 324 meter-long meandering bench (world’s longest, apparently) by Studio Weave on the seafront at Littlehampton in the UK. It is not just a bench, it is an experience and an environment.
We need more councils that have the vision and passion to do these things. We need people to demand and rally for them, and we need visionary designers, architects, planners and artists to design and propose and speak for them. Let’s just do it!. – Tuija Seipell
More images from Public Space. Org:
Paseo Marítimo de la Playa Poniente
Benidorm (Spain), 2009
The complex strip of transition between the city and beach unfolds in a colourful repertoire of sinuous forms that is sufficiently powerful to order the seafront facade and confer on it a unitary character.
A kilometre and a half long, the seaside promenade of the Playa Poniente used to run parallel to a four-lane road and a row of ground-level parking spaces. An intervention in the 1970s covered it with mediocre paving, lining it with a heavy concrete balustrade 1.2 m high, which noticeably obstructed views of the sea. Access to the sand was only provided at two-hundred-metre intervals by way of ostentatious imperial stairways.
AIM OF THE INTERVENTION
In 2002, the Benidorm Council and the Generalitat (Government) of Valencia decided to invest more than ten million euros to reform the promenade. A call for entries was made in a competition with a view to finding an architectural solution that was sufficiently potent to bring coherence to this abrupt seafront façade. In the transversal sense, the intervention was to improve access to the beach and the visual relationship between sea and city.
The new promenade reduces the urbanised surface and constitutes a complex strip of transition between skyscrapers and beach. It is structured on the basis of a sinuous succession of walls of white concrete that delimit terraces, garden plots, stairs and ramps. Their geometry is apparently capricious with concave and convex ruled surfaces that, in fact, are subject to a strict modular system. Garden plots and the interplay of different colours in the paving fill in the sections separating the walls in their undulating coming and going. The road has been restricted now to two lanes and an underground parking area runs longitudinally along the promenade. The architectural barriers have been eliminated, markedly improving access to the beach by way of a good number of stairways and ramps.
Benidorm is increasingly posited as an urban paradigm within the industry of mass tourism. Its extreme density is concentrated in an area of land that is significantly small in comparison with the large extensions of territory taken up by other more disperse models of sporadic occupation and almost unviable maintenance. It is precisely this density that makes possible the concentrated investment of large amounts of public money in projects such as this. The esplanade’s colourful surging forms evoke the gardens of Antoni Gaudí or Burle Marx, while its powerful iconic presence unfolds in a forceful embrace with the skyscrapers along the seafront, ordering them into a unitary body.
CITY: Benidorm (71,034 inhabitants)
BEGINING YEAR: 2002
BEGINING OF WORK YEAR: 2006
END OF WORK YEAR: 2009
AREA: 40,000 m2
COST: 10,620,000 €
Generalitat Valenciana – Ayuntament de Benidorm
Office of Architecture in Barcelona
Luca Cerullo – Dirección de Obra Juan Calvo – Estructura