BENIDORM WEST BEACH PROMENADE
ALEJO BAGUÉ

BENIDORM WEST BEACH PROMENADE

OAB - Office of Architecture in Barcelona as Architects

Benidorm is perhaps the one Spanish town the massive industry of leisure and tourism has turned into a paradigm; namely, that of an extremely high density concentrated in a tiny territory. In the long run this model has shown itself to be more efficient than others that posit the deterioration of huge tracts of land, towns empty nine months of the year, almost impossible to maintain.


In the competition for the remodeling of the Promenade of the 1.5-kilometer-long West Beach, we propose a radical innovation in terms of what different promenades the world over have hitherto been. Not only will a borderline of protection, a hinge between town and sea, be built, but the construction will be addressed of a public place that is conducive to many different activities.


The promenade, understood as a place with a life of its own, with organic lines, a reminder of natural wave forms, generates an ensemble of honeycombed surfaces that juggle with light and shadow, convexities and concavities that gradually construct a set of platforms and levels which will make their use feasible as areas for play, meeting, leisure or contemplation.


Its layout will allow the natural runoff of rainwater to be resolved, support the collectors and infrastructure networks, eliminate architectonic barriers, link the beach with the underground car parks, thus becoming a complex strip of transition between town and beach.


This scheme, originating in an aleatory decision to work with curvilinear braids that are structured in intermediary layers and platforms, does not obey the laws of chance but grows out of establishing a number of fixed geometric laws and a modulation that will facilitate the logic of its construction.


Similar in origin to the one employed in the Barcelona Botanical Garden, the strategy assumes a life of its own here. The curved fabrics are gradually plaited together, obtaining forms of fusion by following a few rigorous geometric norms. The surfaces of the promenade intersect, move off and change level, thus generating jutting platforms and concave and convex shapes without ever invading the area of sand.


Throughout the design stage, after producing many drawings, maquettes and computer models, we came up against the problem of being able to control the shapes of the promenade solely though the execution of numerous sections, as if a scanner were involved.


We decided, next, to perform the inverse operation, which would consist in thinking like a computer and constructing the geometry manually. topography with contour lines every 20 cm.


The models were cut out and trimmed with the scalpel, until the desired shapes were obtained. Following this process, each of the sheets of each model was transferred to a DIN A0 digitalized tablet until a model in three dimensions was obtained, from which the new sections were elaborated.


These models would later be used to obtain the matrixes of the formwork molds, as explained in the constructional paragraph.


On the seafront of Benidorm, following the geometrical deployment of bands, uses and platforms intertwined in an aleatory manner, there comes the logic of the construction, for which the distinct stretches of the promenade are serialized, until arriving at a small number of matrixes which are combined to form the different variants of the promenade. This approach will permit the manufacture of huge, 4 x 6-meter molds in wood with which to prefabricate the main structure in situ. The geometry of the wave-form volumes that create the shape of the promenade with projections in both directions is materialized in a concrete shell 8-10 cm thick, reinforced with epoxy-treated welded bar grids and fiber reinforcements that will avoid retraction cracks, and designed with tyxotropic mortars of extremely high resistance and flexibility.


This shell is anchored to a set of screens running obliquely to the promenade, with an inter-axial length of 6 m, which in turn sustain, by means of their variable profile, the slabs and paving horizontally resolving the promenade. In this way the hidden space is made visitable, thus facilitating supervision of the extrados of the concrete shell, the layout of the infrastructure and the installation which incorporate the promenade lighting, plus the placement of the reduced program: accesses to the rear car parking and the channeling of rainwater runoff towards the sea.


The utilization of a system of molds with underpinnings by means of extendible mechanical arms permits us to calibrate the final geometry and to adopt all the positions in three dimensions supporting the minor stress of the projection on the formwork.

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