Urbanism through Integrated Landscape and Architecture

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Proceedings of International Conference on Advances in Architecture and Civil Engineering (AARCV 2012), 21st – 23rd June 2012


Paper ID AR16UD, Vol.2

Urbanism through Integrated Landscape and Architecture: Calatrava‘s Project for the City of
Arts and Sciences in Valencia

Rukmini Mukherjee

Abstract--- Men do not love Rome because she is beautiful; Rome is beautiful because men have loved her. – Leopold Kohr.
And thus is contained all the words and reasons that create a successful environment. All that is needed is the will to change for the better and enable an urban development by building a sustainable community. For every idea conceived in favour of development, there is bound to be much pessimism and contradictory concepts. There are many conflicting needs that have to be answered to and many competing solutions to such demands. Urbanism is an instance of whatever solution wins the negotiation. The perpetual strife between architecture as an expressive art, part of landscape and building or simply a fabric for structural systems continues all over the world. Many ideologies, starting from the classical, modern rationalists and empiricists to post-modern deconstructionists and traditionalists have challenged the role of each of these systems in the design process. And so is the conflict between ideas of placing “buildings” for an urban design project. The resolution of this conflict is not possible, but selection of the best solution is within the human abilities of the decisionmaking bodies. The proper solution can address many difficulties and can steer a development towards the right direction, which is a time-consuming process and requires proper planning, for Rome was not built in a day.
Keywords--- Urbanism, Integrated Landscape
A. The Project and its Initial Problems I
Nitiation of „a Millennium Project‟
THE City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias) in Valencia was developed as an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex in the city of Valencia in Spain. The project was taken up to mark the arrival of the 21st century and as per the media coverage ―…it looks as though it might have been beamed down to earth from another planet‖, (http://www.valenciaguide.org, 2009). Formerly an unremarkable city outshone by many famous places of Spain, the integrative approach towards the landscape and architecture of the project has made Valencia a
Rukmini Mukherjee, Architect and Student of Master of Architecture (Urban Design), Department of Architecture, Jadavpur University, Kolkata – 700032, [email protected]

sought-after destination in the map of Spain. Not just a source of revenue, the City of Arts and Sciences has become a place of entertainment for visitors as well as local people due to its people-friendly design and conveniences provided. Better known for its historic and cultural value, the country can boast of the latest technological advancements in its architecture, structure, construction as well as landscape design due to such works by architects Felix Candela, Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava.

The City of Arts and Sciences was developed by Santiago

Calatrava as a large-scale urban recreation centre for culture

and science. It incorporated L‘Oceanogràfic, an underwater

city designed by the late Felix Candela. Set in the old dried-up

river bed of the Turia, midway between the old city of

Valencia and the coastal district of Nazaret, the City of Arts

and Sciences covers an area of 350,000 square meters.

Following a disastrous flood in 1957, the river was diverted

along a canal to the south of the city, and the dried-out

riverbed planted as a 7 km long promenade through the centre

of the city. The promenade is crossed by two streamlined new








In the late '80s, Joan Lerma, the then President of the Generalitat Valenciana, adopted the idea of building a scientific and cultural centre that serves the entire community. The need for a ―place‖ was felt in the city of Valencia, where people could gather for leisure and entertainment, walk around and enjoy the environment, a place that could be established as the ―centre‖ of the city. The idea was basically to provide knowledge and recreational facilities to the residents of Valencia, which would also cater as a tourist destination. A special task team was formed by Lerma, which would travel to different parts of the world to appraise similar projects and understand the major needs and demands of such a development. The team was to critically diagnose the criteria for such development and the impact that would be caused. The response of the people to such projects around the world was gathered. The initial project consisted of a communications tower (it would be the third highest at the time), a planetarium and a science museum.

Like all urban-scale projects, there was great controversy

generated by the opposition parties saying that it was ―… a

Pharaonic work and that Lerma only wants to show the power







ISBN 978-93-82338-01-7 | © 2012 Bonfring

Proceedings of International Conference on Advances in Architecture and Civil Engineering (AARCV 2012), 21st – 23rd June 2012


Paper ID AR16UD, Vol.2

(http://en.wikiarquitectura.com). However, despite the obstacles, Lerma managed to engage the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who would take over much of the design and construction could begin a few months later. This did not stop the opposition, who raised their complaints and grievances, and managed to stop the construction, with another project "more consistent in scale and investment." In order to reconcile the differences, the City of Arts and Sciences was allowed to have a planetarium and a science museum only but without the communications tower. Felix candela was involved in the project at this stage of design and a new element was added to the project. After two years, in 1989, the project was taken up as an investment.
The City of Arts and Sciences was an urban renewal project and set up in a degraded part of Valencia. The site is set on an important historical part of the city and this led to the conclusion that the project should be a hub, not only scientific and cultural, but also on an urban level that unites the new developments on one side of the basin to the existing developments on the other side. The project was established on a flat terrain and is on the final section of the old river Turia. The idea was to recover the old urban area between this river and the motorway Saler. This route was a very important one and the approach was to create a link between the city and the sea. This project was to be the last installation followed by restoration of the beaches and creating green space with some towers.

using it as a mirror for the architecture.‖ - Santiago Calatrava Palau de les Artes

Source: Google Earth
The whole project was designed with the concept of a picturesque sunken park. A series of five buildings were planned to strengthen the axis and linearity of the site along with providing a sense of place, open and public spaces. The major hallmark of the architect has been the creation of spatial sculptures which cause amazement and surprise. Respecting the tradition of the Mediterranean Sea and light blue and white blend with the pseudo-futuristic architecture of the project was a main concept. The entry into the third millennium was to be represented by the access or gradual unfolding of the site from ―the old tradition of the city leading to these monumental modern sculptures‖, (http://en.wikiarquitectura.com). Each building would have its own concept and respond to different features, but the unity in materials and colours, along with provision of large water bodies bind the project as a whole.
―As the site is close to the sea, and Valencia is so dry, I decided to make water a major element for the whole site

The site is a linear stretch and five major spaces were divided and incorporated into the project. These proposed spaces included Palau de Les Artes Reina Sofía, L‘umbracle, L‘Hemisféric, Museu de les Ciéncies Príncipe Felipe and L‘Oceanográfic. The Palacio de las Artes represents the commitment to art, spreading the music, dance and theatre. Their suggestive reference was to the nautical activity, almost like a metaphor of a boat that had run aground on the ancient river bed of the Turia. The building of 37000 square metres and having a height more than 70 metres was designed with four spaces – the main hall, the Aula Magistral, an amphitheatre, Theatre and House. The structural component had cantilever slabs at different levels and these levels were joined by stairs and elevators offering panoramic views of the city. The different buildings were implemented and made accessible in stages throughout the development of the site. Designed almost entirely by Santiago Calatrava, L‘Hemisfèric (Planetarium) was the first element to be opened to the public

ISBN 978-93-82338-01-7 | © 2012 Bonfring

Proceedings of International Conference on Advances in Architecture and Civil Engineering (AARCV 2012), 21st – 23rd June 2012


Paper ID AR16UD, Vol.2

in April 1998. The Science Museum Principe Felipe opened in 2000, L‘Umbracle in 2001 and the Palacio de las Artes, in 2002. L‘Umbracle was designed as a Promenade and Car Park and also functions as a greenhouse and contains all specimens of Spanish flora. This was designed as an elongated structure bounding one edge of the second part of the linear stretch. L‘Hemisféric was the most representative structure of the project, conceived as a giant eyeball floating in water. The space was designed to host technological and educational programmes in IMAX rooms through audiovisual demonstrations, including a planetarium.
The two principle buildings, the L‘Hemisfèric and the Science Museum Principe Felipe, are organised around a raised promenade running from the base of the Palacio de las Artes along the defining, longitudinal axis of the site, and offering views out towards the sea. Museu de les Ciéncies Príncipe Felipe has 40,000 square metres on three floors. The concept was structurally perceived as the exoskeleton of a prehistoric animal or perhaps a huge whale. The aim was to create an interactive museum of science making it a special place for youth and children. Unlike any other conventional museum in the late signs of "prohibited touching" each sample and invites them to come and participate, learning in each of the interventions. The central walkway, an integral part of the overall landscaping, served as an ordering element of the design. Gardens extended to either side as a reminder of the site‘s fluvial past, shallow reflecting pools embrace the planetarium, covering the roof of the library, cinemas, several auditoria and restaurants beneath, (http://www.arcspace.com). L‟Oceanográfic with a volume of 110,000 square metres was intended to be a sanctuary and environmental centre. It is the largest European oceanographic and third globally. It contains 45,000 species of aquatic life from around the world. The elements and structures were devised by architect Felix Candela, who is renowned for his work on shell structures, which is reflected in the project.
A. Designing a Place for the People
Described as a ―city within a city‖, the project has various cultural and entertainment units in multi-level system, designed and operational on vast stretches of water and connected to each other by well-designed walkways, underpasses and connected visually through interesting axes, framed and open vistas, articulated forms and curved lines imparting rhythm and rhyme and surprise elements on skyline. Santiago Calatrava, who master-minded most of the complex, says ‗I am proud of the fact that people can walk through and around the main buildings without paying. It is a city to be discovered by promenading‘ (www.buildipedia.com, 2006). More than 7 km of the stretch through the project site is accessible by pedestrian people without any need for payment, thus making it a large pedestrian mall. Such accessibility is a major factor in bringing in the local people daily for leisurely walks here at all times of the day, a sense of belonging to the site and encouraging community participation.
The site separates two sides of the city, the old from the

new, the whole impression of the project is that of attracting the people and letting them see the city as it is from inside (the project premises) to outside (by creating sweeping vistas of both sides of the city). The linearity has been divided into several sections, each with a unique expression of architecture and conforming landscape, giving the participants the freedom to choose the destination of their choice, or simply to walk around leisurely through the premises, appreciating the inseparable combination of the buildings with the elements of landscape. Visible from a great distance while approaching the site, the Palau de les Artes Reina Sofia is situated at the first apex of the site. It acts as a landmark on the skyline and promises of many more breathtaking views to appear with progress through the site. This great example of serial vision used in modern day architecture and urban design exemplifies how a linear stretch of land can be used to surprise its visitors through pre-conceived views and vistas and through involvement of the users in the overall cultural landscape. Visually connected through water, the physical connections between Palau de les Artes, L‘Hemisferic, L‘Umbracle and Museo de les Ciencias are through walkways, some winding their way across the water and under the sweeping bridges or the open sky, and some defined pathways framed along the Umbracle providing a more comfortable environment during the daytime. However, minimum fees are charged for accessing the interiors of the four buildings. Beyond this point, the entrance to the nature centre is levied as this generates the revenue for the maintenance of the Oceanarium, Marine Park and the bird sanctuaries.
This is where there is a stark contrast between the pedestrianization of the two parts of the linear site. One has free accessibility to the site with restricted entries inside the functional spaces, while the other has restricted entry to the site and complete accessibility to all parts of the marine park, sanctuaries and ancillary facilities. This contrast is perhaps the reason behind the vastly different approach in designing the two parts of the site. The latter part has no such defined axes and the architecture is more of a humane scale as it houses living creatures in comparison to the displayed arts and effects of the Arts and Science Museums of the first part. But in both cases, the comforts of the people are considered and are welldesigned for pedestrians, although purposefully having different approaches. The overall scheme of materials and colour are maintained throughout and the interplay of built form with the sky and water are intrinsic to the design.
Being established as a paradise for pedestrians, differences in level separate the high speed vehicular movement from that of the people. At any point of time from any part of the site, people can reach the vehicular roads above the site and access public transport without difficulty. The promenade towards the west of the site leads to the entrances of the Alameda Metro Station (which was also designed by architect Calatrava) and the Alameda Bridge. The steel canopies that mark the entrances to the underground station can be lowered by hydraulically driven rods, to rest flush with the pavers, thus sealing the station. The sweeping bridges for vehicles, connecting the two sides of the city separated by the project, are structurally conceived to provide visual pleasure for the people as well as climatic comfort to those walking below

ISBN 978-93-82338-01-7 | © 2012 Bonfring

Proceedings of International Conference on Advances in Architecture and Civil Engineering (AARCV 2012), 21st – 23rd June 2012


Paper ID AR16UD, Vol.2

them. Such variations in level provide different vistas for the pedestrians above and below the bridges, as well as the moving vehicles. In such cases, even a passerby can successfully become part of the whole setting without having any intention to visit the site, with a partial physical connection and complete visual connection with the urban design.

urban setting, where the interior spaces of the architecture is as much a part of the external environment as the external landscape and surroundings become a part of the internal spaces of these buildings. This has been achieved through integration of structural components with the activity spaces such that every alcove and niche formed by the framework is an integral part of the internal environment, without conflicting with the needs of the people. Pre-stressed cables and canopies housing the green house and native flora of Spain are as much a part of architectural splendour as they are features of well-thought landscape design. The exhibition centres are designed such that their structural members can function additionally as cantilever canopies, extending out to the water becoming a part of the landscape. Such detail in microclimatic design dissolves the boundaries of landscape and architecture and brings into the design, an additional dimension of ―people‖. Even though the scale of the architecture is monumental and the landscape expansive, no person, young or old, feels out of place in the whole setting.

Surprising vistas – the Hemisferic and Palau de les Artes at Night
The solitude of the place is maintained throughout due to the solidarity between the majestic white concrete structures against the blue backdrop of the sky and the water. There are not many niches or alcoves that give privacy to the participants. It is the provision of personal space purely through designed views and interaction between the elements. The combination of concrete, steel, glass and ceramics that are used throughout such that the colors white and blue are the theme of the entertainment centre. The occasional green of the flora and moving colors of the participants become insignificant in the whole setting due to the monumental scale. But this does not disconnect the people from the architecture. The connection is forged through the vastness of water and its ability to unite all forms – natural or man-made, visually. It is the ability of the architecture to invite the external environment inside, through use of carefully designed structural members and transparent materials, that allows the urban design to flow into all the spaces and connect all the small parts to create a unified magnificent whole. The landscape, on the other hand, brings out the personal spaces and small parts of the internal environment outside, such that there is no loss of human scale in the monumental setting. ―Calatrava‘s initial sketches for buildings are loosely conceived; the drawings too are largely spontaneous. Only the later planning phase concerns it with engineering calculations. From the very outset, however, the drawings are made by an artist seeking forms of artistic expression but embracing engineering as a way of thinking‖ (Levin, 2003). His work with moving natural structures such as skeletal systems, organic entities and their manifestation in the built environment is reflected in the whole setting. The integration of landscape with the architecture in order to create a unique

Structural Elements of Museo de Principe Felipe
The strategic lighting in the interior and on exterior of architecture along with the vast expanses of water acts as the major integrators of landscape with architecture. In the presence of daylight, the concept colours of white (of structures), blue (of the water and sky) and transparency (of both elements) define the surroundings. At night, the transparency, reflectance and lighting bring out a new dimension of the peoples‘ park. The solids and voids created define the masses and the activities. The axes and lines in the urban design are best viewed after dark when the structural elements, landscape, architectural components and even the people lose their individual identities. Due to inversion of qualities at night (by reflection of illuminated structures in placid pool and illuminated surfaces against darkness of skyline), all the components of design – architectural, structural, landscape, spatial, unite to create a fascinating skyline and reflect the very essence of a technologically adept, functionally thriving and emotionally appealing urban design.
There should be no conflict in incorporating technology and the welfare of people and their environment. Advancement in technology is for the sole purpose of

ISBN 978-93-82338-01-7 | © 2012 Bonfring

Proceedings of International Conference on Advances in Architecture and Civil Engineering (AARCV 2012), 21st – 23rd June 2012


Paper ID AR16UD, Vol.2

advancing the ways of life, for protecting and rejuvenating the natural environment as well to provide a safe, functional and pleasant environment for the people. It calls for integration of all processes of thought and all kinds of design so that the urban environment can be justified as a public realm. The project by Santiago Calatrava in Valencia demonstrates how from the initial stages of design conception, the needs of the people as well as the environment can be put forward and technology can be used to unite both architecture and landscape creating a unique modern urban cultural landscape. And above all, with meeting the users‘ demands, the project can become a self-sustaining and revenue-generating system that not only benefits the local economy but satisfies the social calling for a peoples‘ place and pride of the city.
Structural systems have been the main protagonists of the design in Calatrava‘s works. L‘Oceanográfic consists of hyperbolic paraboloids constructed in concrete, and its shape looks like a water lily. L‘Hemisféric consists of a reinforced concrete structure except that the casing is metal, based on a foundation based on screens and large slabs. The area is composed of concrete on metal structure formed by meridians. The rigidity of the structure is achieved through reinforced concrete walls that enclose the area around the area of access, and through the forging of the different floors and beams of the sloping terraces. Palau de Les Artes Reina Sofía has a structure of 230 metres length and more than 70 metres height while the two "shells", which embrace the buildings are constructed of steel sheet with an approximate weight of 3,000 tons lined by the outer ceramic coating. L‘umbracle was designed from the outset in white concrete, like the rest of the ensemble, with a heavy metal. Its structure resembles a lattice, with a succession of 55 fixed and 54 floating arches, metal. The floor is covered with Teakwood, a tropical wood suitable for installation in outdoor areas, as it supports the assault of wind and rain with a minimum wear. An important unifying material has been the use of Gaudi‘s shattered tiles in many parts of the project. Thus a major Valencian industry has been involved with the project and use of many local materials can be seen to effect.
Despite its great success, a development of such scale is always mired in controversies. Architect Santiago Calatrava has been accused of 'bleeding Valencia dry'. Leftists have accused the top architect of raking in escalating amounts of cash from regional government to build the giant cultural park. Although it was originally much praised, the ever-expanding centre has drawn the ire of some architectural critics as well as that of political opponents of the Valencia government. It has been alleged about Calatrava earning several million euros from the regional government for designing projects that never came to fruition."The attitude of those who want to take advantage of the current economic climate to criticise a project whose benefits no one has challenged is simply indescribable," Calatrava has responded, as recorded by the leading global newspaper The Guardian, May 2012. In addition, Valencia has been cited as a cruel reflection of Spain‘s present economic woes. ―Years of free spending, a real-estate bubble burst and a banking collapse, have put Valencia on the brink of being bailed out by the central government — which has huge budget problems of its own‖,

(http://www.taipeitimes.com, May 2012).
A. Urban Development in a Mixed Economy
Planning of the automobile city focuses on saving time. Planning for the accessible city, on the other hand, focuses on time well spent – Robert Cervero.
In a mixed economy like India, globalisation has rendered it free from the closed financial system of post-independence. Since 1991, continuing economic liberalisation has steered the nation towards a market-based economy. In the past, urban development was completely in the hands of the public sector plagued by slow growth, lack of quality and inefficiency. After partial opening up of development areas to the private sector, allowing foreign investment, there has been substantial improvement of infrastructure in the last two decades. A major setback of the urban area is the evident disparity on socioeconomic terms. Urban development post-industrialisation has been centered on the idea of setting up industrial zones within the city which would lead to development. On the contrary, it has widened the economic gap between various sections of the society.
The last decades have seen the onslaught of development on the environment and well-being of living entities. The concepts of sustainable growth and smart building have been taken up worldwide. But in a fragmented state like India, there is lack of co-operation between the development bodies and their approach towards development is uneven. There are separate projects implemented for infrastructure, urban renewal, urban design, architectural works, environmental planning. The focus is on making cities with improved transportation systems without planning for better accessibility. The deprived state of the lower economic classes becomes evident with the demand for cheap public transportation exceeding its capacity by a large margin. The increasing affordability of the middle class economies are reflected by the increase in private vehicle ownerships and thus, with improved infrastructural facilities, there is subsequent increase in the number of vehicles plying the roads. This continuous cycle is adversely affecting the urban environment and priority of people over vehicles has to be established.
The motto of America‘s smart growth programme, ―preserving natural habitat by creating better human habitat‖ aptly sums up the solution to the urban problems regarding development. The major requirement of the economy towards a sustainable development is the need for a ‗Vision‘. In the case of Calatrava‘s project for the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, it was the vision of an era-changing development, something that would bring together the people with the buildings, giving them an environment of comfort, leisure and pride apart from generating revenue. This kind of vision can be implied in various scales for urban development of India, starting from the micro scale of an architectural project to the macro scale of a city. For all scales of developmental work, an urban design viewpoint has to be incorporated within the planning process. Even in a small scale of architecture, the

ISBN 978-93-82338-01-7 | © 2012 Bonfring

Proceedings of International Conference on Advances in Architecture and Civil Engineering (AARCV 2012), 21st – 23rd June 2012


Paper ID AR16UD, Vol.2

mere application of green buildings cannot improve the environment. As rightly quoted by Dan Malouff: ―LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers‖.
B. Lessons Learned for Application to Local Scenario
Comparatively successful projects like Valencia prove that although their implementation may pose to be an issue among conflicting parties, they can bring about a change towards the better and some sacrifices need to be made for fulfilment of a greater cause. The integrated approach of harnessing architecture with landscape to create a modern cultural landscape in the scale of urban design is demonstrated and can be applied to the fabric of an Indian urban-scape that will require some of the measures listed as follows:
The provision of level variations separating vehicular and pedestrian movements and improving access to various urban facilities. Encouraging the use of pedestrian pathways by providing better connections between places, visually and aesthetically accentuating the urban environment to make the travel comfortable. Use and creation of multi-level spaces, hence reducing the impact of built environment on nature. Integrating structure and landscape into the process of architectural design where architecture should be treated as an element of urban design, and a building or group of buildings as a part of the greater urban fabric. Use of local industries, technology and materials for development. Quality of architectural expression should be envisioned, it has the ability to affect its urban setting.
A. Changes at Administrative and Policy-Making Level
The Perspective Plans involving the Visions of development should take a stand on sustainability.
The Development Plans for five years should outline the projected growth factors of various urban development projects, varying from new development to renewal and regeneration.
Importance of existing development should be identified and the new development should be planned at par with the existing one. Urban design guidelines should be prepared and it is implied that Urban Arts Commission should be set up for all major municipalities and metropolis. This has been successfully incorporated in Delhi and has met with success. ―Place-making‖ is an important concept that can be achieved through various tools like zoning regulations and land-use control. Special areas should be

identified, accentuated or created to create urban nodes of activity. Building from ground zero, or territorialisation – a concept that would require a major role of public participation in development projects and in the decision-making process.
Every human being has the right to good-living and a good environment. Urbanism and development should not mean benefits of a privileged few at the cost of many others. Proper urban development has to be inclusive and sustainable and can be achieved by constantly learning from past mistakes of similar developments and gaining from the knowledge of similar successes. The resolution of conflicting demands is best done through learning and evaluation and the solution best suited is the one that involves the well-being of the people and environment with the future in retrospection.
Dr. Shivashish Bose, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, Jadavpur University, for his continuous support and guidance.
[1] Mukherjee, R. 2009; Author made a visual survey and documentation in December 2009 of the Valencia-project during her stay at the Escola de Arte e Superior de Deseno, Antonio Failde in Ourense, Spain for obtaining training during October-December 2009 under the Bilateral Students Exchange Programme between the Department of Architecture of Jadavpur University in Kolkata and the School of Art and Design in Ourense, Spain.
[2] Levin, M. 1998; Santiago Calatrava Artworks: Laboratory of Ideas, Forms and Structures. Published by Birkhauser Architecture, 1st Edition in 1998.
[3] http://www.arcspace.com/architects/calatrava/camino_moreras/ [4] http://en.wikiarquitectura.com/index.php/City_of_Arts_and_Sciences [5] http://www.calatrava.com [6] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/08 [7] http://www.taipeitimes.com, 2012

ISBN 978-93-82338-01-7 | © 2012 Bonfring

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Urbanism through Integrated Landscape and Architecture