City of Arts and Sciences

The City of Arts and Sciences, developed by Santiago Calatrava, is a large-scale urban recreation center for culture and science which also incorporates 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 kilometer long promenade through the center of the city. The promenade is crossed by two streamlined new bridges designed by Santiago Calatrava.

Designed almost entirely by Valencia born Santiago Calatrava L’Hemisfèric (Planetarium) was the first element to be opened to the public in April 1998. The Science Museum Principe Felipe opened in 2000, L’Umbracle (Parking Structure) opened in 2001, the Palacio de las Artes, still under construction, is scheduled to open in 2002. Calatrava’s use of pure white concrete and Gaudiesque fragments of shattered tiles, an important Valencian industry, tie all the structures together as a whole. This impressive architectural ensemble brings new focus to an incoherent and underdeveloped area, while linking and providing a marker for the outer areas of the city.

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. L’Umbracle (Promenade and Car Park) is Santiago Calatrava’s latest contribution to the unique and comprehensive complex of the City of Arts and Sciences. The roofs of the nautical structures that form The L’Oceanogràfic (Oceanographic Park), an underwater city covering 80,000 square meters, were designed by the late Felix Candela.

A communications tower had originally been planned for the western tip of the site but a change of government in 1996 led to the replacement of the telecommunications tower with the Palacio de las Artes. Santiago Calatrava won the competition for the communications tower in 1991 and later that same year he was given the commission to develop the entire complex.

This walkway, an integral part of the overall landscaping, serves as an ordering element; gardens extend to either side and, 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. Further strips of water mark the northern boundary of the Science Museum.

Further west the promenade culminates with the Calatrava designed entrances to the Alameda Metro Station (1991-1996) and the Alameda Bridge that connects Old Valencia with the University. 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 roofing of the underground station stem from the girder sustaining the bridge structure, with a central zone of concrete spokes and ribbed outer areas where the concourses fit in the stairwells.


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  • Denis Drachev
    Denis Drachev updated 100 media
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