Prova Pilot - Salou d’Estiu 2017
As part of an academic research process Prova Pilot tests people’s acceptance of a pedestrian area in Salou - a touristic Mediterranean city - that is affected by high urban stress during summer. Prova Pilot wants to celebrate people conquering a previously unreachable public space. The Locals and Tourists reaction will provide valuable information for urbanization in the future.
Urban test in a highly stressed touristic area celebrates people-first.
Carles Buigas is the main avenue of the touristic core of Salou, one of the principal tourism destinations in the Spanish Mediterranean Coast. As part of a wider urban action that explores ways to renovate and improve the urban offer, academics from the URV and UPC Schools of Architecture implemented an urban test during the summer of 2017. Further from celebrating the widening of the space available for people, the goal is to test acceptance and obtain information for the coming master plan.
The urban performance aims to test strategies, previously presented to the municipality as a toolkit, to improve the urban conditions of the Carles Buigas area, now under an advanced process of decay in housing and commercial space. Dealing with market seasonality, the area is under high urban stress during summer season and almost empty during winter, which makes urban management and investments difficult. Moreover, there is a low rate of permanent homes due to the absent of public facilities and the negative externalities resulting from mass tourism in high season.
Consequence of the administrative tolerance with commercial activities, the roofs have been enlarged conquering the space between buildings and sidewalks conditioning the resulting quality of the street. A situation that wants to be reversed to improve urban quality and people satisfaction.
The result of the test confirms that the extension of the free space limits and the priority given to pedestrians instead of vehicles are indispensable to ameliorate the urban conditions of Avenida Carles Buigas and its surroundings.
The installation of the elements of urbanization took place during the month of May and rested operative during the months of high intensity of visitors, from June to September. The occupation of the new accessible spaces was very high, especially in the hours after the sunbathing period in the beach areas. However, the absence of shade elements like the umbrellas, that finally were not installed, may have decreased the number of actual users during the rest of daytime. Likewise, despite the initial distrusts from neighbors and business managers, common in every process of change, the increase on the number of visitors and the absence of the anticipated vandal acts made their opinion evolve towards a common support of the action implemented.
Furthermore, it was visible that the number of people using bikes or running in the surroundings, encouraged by the absence of motor vehicles, increased. This shows the peoples’ demand for common spaces to be free of motor vehicles so that they are able to practice sports and use alternative transport modes. Nowadays, the street has maintained the restriction of the passage of vehicles and is waiting for the development of the project of re-urbanization.