'Green heart' for Valencia

Tuesday 28 Aug 2012

New central public park is one of Valencia's major redevelopment projects following the arrival of the high-speed train connection

Valencia is Spain’s third largest city and the Valencia Parque Central project site covers the central urban area affected by major changes to the rail system, and the arrival of high speed rail trains. The new public 23-hectare Central Park is created by tunnelling the existing railway lines and will become one of Valencia’s most important redevelopment projects.

The design competition brief for the park helped shape the key criteria for our design: The park has to be a multifunctional space and an active zone, and it has to be a lively and secure destination. More than a conventional urban park, Valencia Parque Central should provide an iconic multifunctional space, the ‘green heart’ of a contemporary city which responds to the diverse demands of 21st Century public spaces and is open and accessible to all of Valencia’s inhabitants and visitors.

Valencia Parque Central will be multifunctional, integrating environmental strategies, urban celebrations, recreation, leisure, sports and culture. Functionally and technologically advanced, it will offer comfortable space where visitors can linger and enjoy the natural surroundings and the diversity of activities and services, today and for future generations. A wide variety of different activities at different times of the day and during each season are encouraged, strategically placed throughout the park to avoid empty or unsafe islands. Spaces for different age groups and activities will be available.

Valencia Parque Central will improve the quality of life for the surrounding neighbourhoods. Sustainable systems and good practice, such as the management of water and energy are at the heart of the project. In Spain, the precious resource of water is a politically sensitive subject, as well as an environmental issue.

A study of rainfall and future water requirements suggested minimising consumption but the architects are equally concerned about energy supply, which they felt had to be sustainable as well. The lowest point of the park forms a bowl to collect rainwater for underground storage and channels to aquifers under Valencia and finally used for irrigation, thereby balancing water requirements. Rainwater will also be harvested from buildings and other structures, so that the city will actually be collecting and saving water above and beyond the requirements for the park.

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