Is an Open, Citizen-Oriented Port Possible?
The change of colour and disposition in the municipal government of Valencia that took place in 2015 opened the door to different management practices in the city’s harbour. I now see the marina as a more democratic, more open facility with the potential to become a space for everyone. Administratively, it’s now organized as a three-partner consortium, which has to be economically self-sufficient despite being weighed down by the huge debts incurred as a result of the earlier conservative governments’ pharaonic expenditure on sailing tournaments and Formula 1 events that screwed the whole place up.
But the enthusiasm of the present management team is showing that things can be done differently, little by little, without flashy gimmicks or heroic deeds, and that it’s possible to place a new, different public space at the citizens’ disposal.
Symbolically, one of the first things to be changed was the name. Previous aristocratic reminders were discarded in favour of a singular name, that of its place, its city: the Puerto de la Marina de Valencia (Valencia Marina).
Two years have been spent reorganizing and recovering the pedestrian space that had been taken away by the extravagant transformation into a Formula 1 circuit, and tidying up the junk–it can’t be called urban furniture–generated during that process. Emblematic elements previously lost to the population have been recovered, like the bandstand that for decades had provided a stage from which musical groups could brighten up weekend strolls. That little folly has been moved from its original location, restored and rehabilitated for musical activity, bringing back musical enjoyment for those walking in the marina at weekends.
Some gigantic Jersey barriers which formerly protected the racetrack have also been recovered and used to delimit a sports zone, creating a double football pitch/basketball court. Here, a young local artist called Abel Iglesias was called on to help soften the harsh appearance of the elements used. The project turned out much cheaper than the one proposed by a sports construction company, while also offering a threefold benefit: uniqueness, price and artistic appeal.
The next step will be a process of placemaking throughout 2020, the objective being to transform the Tinglado 2 zone. A year of work and participative action will produce an executive project for changing this part of the harbour into an active, attractive public space with a relatively modest amount of investment.
We look forward to the new surprises in creative management the consortium team have in store for us!