How does one design friendlier cities? The Parc Central is one of the most recent examples in Valencia. Since the opening of its gates a few months ago, it has become one of the most visited and most enjoyed spaces of the city. A thousand trees have been planted here, together with 85,000 shrubs and herbaceous plants of 70 different species.
Each area of the park has its own botanic theme; it combines meadows with shrubberies and tree-lined paths that have succeeded in alleviating the high summer temperatures.
The historic buildings designed by Demetrio Ribes, the architect responsible for the Estación del Norte railway station, formed part of the railway infrastructure of the city and many of them, protected owing to their high value as heritage, have been renovated for use as sports and cultural facilities.
The whole project, which is still under construction, will occupy a total of 23 hectares of land although the railway tracks, which currently divide the city in two, must first be relocated underground. The project, implemented by the American landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson (Yakima, Washington, 1951), is one of the great promises made by the Valencian institutions to the residents, pending completion since the eighties.
The park has already received an award, since its architect was rewarded at the latest Madrid Design Festival with a ‘MINI Design Award’.
In its first phase, the Parc Central is an example of how cities are able to improve the daily life of their inhabitants. Covering more than 100,000 m2 and inspired by the poem ‘Aigua plena de seny’ (‘Water full of wisdom’) by Ausiàs March, its layout, furniture, buildings and plant life place nature and recreation at our disposal.
Urban design, in short, can also contribute to a better life. And it should be mentioned that, for this project, offers were presented by some of the best design and architecture studios in the world, such as Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Alejandro Zaera, with Kathryn Gustafson finally being selected. We can enjoy the results every day in Valencia.
Thank you to Jorge Garcia Romeu for picturing the essence and life of the park.