‘The City of Art and Sciences’. It seems a simple name, but what lies behind this city is very impressive… Beautiful buildings, like ‘Agora’, form a unique environment at the end of the Turia park. Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias as the Spaniards know it, is in stark contrast to the old city of Valencia due to its unique and modern architecture. Agora, built in 2009 is the most recent gem in this list.
Who is behind this Agora artwork?
Valencia has seen an increase in tourism since the 80s in Bilbao and all the benefits it brought with them. This stimulated the Valencian government to search for solutions so they could also attract more tourism to the city. The municipality has done this by developing a zoning plan for the Turia park. Behind Agora and the other constructions within City of Arts and Sciences, is the designer Santiago Calatrava. He is from origin a Valencian architect, who created all the buildings within Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.
The projects that Calatrava devised have caused for many doubts among the people. The controversial buildings that have been developed since 1989 cost much more than expected have high maintenance costs and have many shortcomings. The expected costs for the complete plan was set at around 300 million, but would ultimately cost 1.3 billion. At the moment it is even so bad that Calatrava has problems with the Valencian government, because many buildings in the City of Art and Science have structural defects. Calatrava on the other hand indicates that he only wanted to work on something special, which would add value to the city of the highest standard.
Valencia is an old city and has the architecture you would expect of it. The plans of Calatrava were therefore not received with a warm welcome, since they were very futuristic and modern. Many Valencians agree that the City of Art and Science is a thorn in the eye and does not fit in with the old city. The construction of the Agora building is unusual. It has an oval shape and looks like a moon. The skeletal elements in the buildings of Calatrava make it seem like it must represent a whale, since it is positioned in front of the sea. Furthermore, the building is surrounded by water and very unique materials are used. Think of a glass roof and the ‘trencadís’ with which the construction is covered. The building is about 88 meters long, 66 meters wide and 70 meters high.
Valencia Open 500
In 2012 during the Valencia Open 500 it took a turn for the worst. During the big tennis tournament it turned out that the roof was leaking and drops were falling from the roof. Pails were placed everywhere and as much water as possible was wiped away during the tournament. Top of the international tennis world came to Valencia especially for this tournament. Examples of players who have played tennis here are the Scot Andy Murray, the French Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the Spaniard David Ferrer.
Nowadays, the Agora building is used for large events and exhibitions. In addition, it is used for Valencia Fashion Week and even for concerts. Unfortunately, the building is currently not open for the public. The building is in scaffolding because of the aforementioned structural defects.Behind the Agora lies the striking ‘sail’ of the Puente de Azud de Oro and a glimpse of the other buildings of CAC.