Alicante City Council has announced an open international contest to re-masterplan its 20 kilometre-long coastline
The two-stage competition seeks proposals for a new ‘coastal passage’ stretching from Elche to El Campello district featuring new creating new multi-purpose public spaces promoting 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.
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.’
Located in south eastern Spain on the popular Costa Blanca – Alicante is a busy Mediterranean Sea port and 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 new infrastructure with support from local public institutions in the coming years.
The local government is currently receiving 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.
The contest’s technical brief outlines twenty separate coastal development sites, ranging from 150 metres up to 3 kilometres in length. 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 around £8,600 each to participate in the contest’s design phase and compete for a £35,000 top prize. The deadline for submissions is 7 May.
How to apply
Department of Urbanization
Ayuntamiento de Alicante
5 Plaza del Ayuntamiento
Tel: +34 965 14 81 94
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 organizer 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 which 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 22 km 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, that 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 provide 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
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 their 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
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 project for the High Line of New York, West 8 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.