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Valencia embraces flower power as work begins on Gustafson Porter's 'green heart' central park

By Kim Megson    04 Nov 2015
Half of the entire site will be planted, with 23 hectares (230,000sq m, 2.4m sq ft) dedicated to diverse public gardens and green space / Gustafson Porter

A new central park in Valencia will fill the the heart of the city with more than 55 acres of plants, trees and flowers.

Construction has finally begun on Valencia Parque Central – designed by international landscape architects Gustafson Porter – four years after the approved plans were originally made public.

The project has been described by Valencia’s former mayor, Rita Barbera, as “the most attractive, important and certainly the economically most significant project in Europe” due to the studio’s ambition to create a flower-filled public space that will drive the regeneration of Spain’s third-largest city. Business, residential and transport developments are also incorporated in the scheme.

In a statement released by Gustafson Porter, the architects said: “Valencia Parque Central will be more than a conventional urban park. It will provide an iconic multifunctional space – the ‘green heart’ of a contemporary city which responds to the diverse demands of 21st Century public spaces.”

The firm wants the site to promote wellness and quality of life within a busy urban centre. Half of the entire site will be planted, with 23 hectares (230,000sq m, 2.4msq ft) dedicated to diverse public gardens and green space. The flora and fauna will be watered using an irrigation system that collects and recycles rainwater.

The gardens will be created within a series of large bowls – inspired by the region’s traditional ceramics – and will be integrated with large-scale cultural and educational spaces. These include an arts plaza, a library, several large water features and a natural amphitheatre.

Gustafson Porter said: “We will integrate urban celebrations, recreation, leisure, sports and culture with the environment. The park will be functionally and technologically advanced, offering comfortable space where visitors can linger and enjoy the natural surroundings and the diversity of activities and services. This is a park for today and for future generations.”

The park is being built sequentially, with one significant design element added at every phase. The arts centre will be completed first, followed by the biggest water feature and the outdoor amphitheatre.

Gustafson Porter beat off competition from a host of international practices, including Zaha Hadid Architects and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, to design the park. During the design stage it worked on the project alongside Borgos Pieper Architects, Nova Ingeniería Project Management and Valencia-based Grupotec Engineers.

The architects have designed the ‘green heart’ of a contemporary city which responds to the diverse demands of 21st Century public spaces / Gustafson Porter
The green space will feature ponds, lakes and man-made water features / Gustafson Porter
The park will become a cultural hub in the heart of Valencia / Gustafson Porter
Pavilions linking the gardens will also be lined with trees and plants / Gustafson Porter
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