Welcome Plaza Pizarro -english-
Alternative Proposal of Improvement: PAM_PIHE_VLC.
La PAM, has been the reaction, as architects and inhabitants, to the announcement that would transform the streets where we live and work. It is an alternative project offered to Valencia´s city hall, showing how to redevelop two streets in downtown in a different way from what was planned.
Walking Valencia, you find out a city that prioritizes cars at the expense of pedestrians, where the space between buildings is designed to drive, park and turn. There is no public space in the area and are not pedestrian friendly sites. You don´t feel invited to linger and for the same you can´t use them for gathering or find a bench to sit.
Last year, elections coming now May 25th, we heard about redeveloping some streets at the city –good news anyway- so we got interested. Living at the area makes you notice everyday troubles at pedestrian level. We asked town hall about the community participation, but they explained no law force them to ask. We live there, so we keep on.
When finally we could see the approved project, as urban planners we had found an incomplete street, designed for cars as along XX Century did. Jane Jacobs asked urbanism to watch people’s behavior, and Whyte did, as Gehl does. So, we had to do something, to propose… and we did, La PAM.
La PAM Pizarro & Hernán Cortés St (Alternative Proposal of Improvement)
We have offered to city hall this alternative proposal to benefit the quality of life for all who live there, a complete street targeting people, inclusive, wide enough, not more expensive and with surprise, two beaches and a Square:
-Two beaches in our proposal that would remove street parking. It would decrease the number of vehicles now are going through looking for free parking. It would also reduce all types of pollution and danger. These beaches are the structure of an urban landscape that changes according to the time of day and season. Flexible zones would accommodate how different people use the area, from unloading cargo from a truck, to parking a bike, to taking a rest on a bench or just enjoy the city as you walk. This multipurpose zone would accommodate everyone without further construction needed.
We also have asked our neighbors. We believe the city belongs to people, not Major, not architects, not engineers, not kings, not politician so you have better to count on people´s feedback to design it! We expose our ideas to neighbors, merchants, commuters, we did surveys and we ask for signing a Mayor request.
The implication results in less money to be spent as aims are easier to match. Our alternative proposal permits people to meet their needs with the opportunity of enjoying the space in their free time. Why not use a space to encourage to building relationships within a community?
The vision of PAM provides the town hall and the citizens with an economic solution that does not increase expenditure.
PAM aims to increase the quality of urban life also would serve as a model to other parts of the city and can be extrapolated to other cities’ grid.
City Council reaction
Valencia street decisions are controlled by Circulation and Transportation Department since 1988 Master Plan approval, we still have some parking areas as Avenue of Aragon, or just traffic lanes along Ausias March and Ronda Sur (South Arterial) instead of green corridors. In 2013 they approved a Sustainable Plan of Mobility that give us some hope, it has some good recommendation of street design that development plans hasn’t follow.
In March 2015 something doesn’t work properly when the Council refers, in its reply to the PAM, about some technical problems for planting trees or designing streets 30, without justifying them technically. On the other hand chooses to arrange, in a parallel street, absorbent paving of the contamination with European funds and only 5 trees planted in a street 270 meters long. Is it this proper answer of a smart city? Wouldn’t it be wiser to limit cars and planting trees? Can there be smart cities without smart designed streets?
In Valencia with our strong sun, is it a smart street one that lacks of tree shade in summer? What is the suitable, sustainable mobility, in 12 meters wide streets of the city center? Car parking?
The authors have invited the Council to ask himself these questions and to pause the process action for reviewing and incorporating the improvements identified in the PAM, adding signatures of people who have joined this this request and also delivering the results of the open meeting with neighbors, merchants, workers and walkers held last March 5.
Crossroad or Square?
Urban action Plaza Pizarro
Let’s draw it at real scale! And we did. First discuss it with neighborhood and then asking for permission, a month before, to draw the Square in May 22nd, chalk, kids, games, local people, visitors, tourists, commuters, even all politician were invited. By the way, permission came 4h before police dead time to close the area, not very kind from City Council but that made organization be real fast, 48h.
It was a pretty urban party, drawing at 1:1 scale a line that putted the limit between lane and public space, it was a pity due cars were not allowed to cross as traffic lamps were over a sidewalk level strange band with curb, design matters.
Sound level came down as last street was closed, other sounds appear immediately and people became able to talk, listen, linger, sit, walk throw the Plaza, kids playing with street games, new people came to watch what was going on, it was very interesting.
Some merchants came to express their point of view, worries and suggestions. Also some architects appeared and congratulated the proposal, neighbors also express their ideas to finish the Plaza, some students of architecture came to help and to see the action… it was great, and things come easy to understand at real scale…
We are happy to have tried. We are still trying to show, to advance, to help to search the city we deserve.
We have found a great tool to boost the city, a tool that may wake up city administrators, good politicians want better ideas, we don’t know what is on ours mind, but we realise that working on is a must, future is exciting, why not low cost changes could be tested? So we are working on other sites.
Gran Via is an arterial street with middle tree almost its full length that has two arms, at 90º, covering half south inner city core, it still has no bike path and we think it should. We have just started with.