Costa Brava, with almost 5 Million tourists a year, is among the EU’s favorite destinations. The coastal zones are facing the double pressure of climate change and massive frequentation.

5KM, Palamós village to Castell Beach Natural Area coastal-walk is one of the most beautiful sections of the Catalan Coast. It has a unique Mediterranean mosaic of agriculture, forestry, fisherman’s huts, and discreet mid twentieth century urbanization. Although the landscape is protected, it still suffers an important habitat degradation by its massive car and pedestrian frequentation.

The project’s goal is to connect the existing tranches of the walk into a single path connecting the village, its nearby beaches and Natural Park. A single-walk that preserves and enhances the coastal landscape for the coming decades.

To turn the walk and related landscapes into a ‘Grand site’ that celebrates its landscape and cultural heritage.

A final goal is to reduce the seasonalization of the visitor, by creating integrative green infrastructures that can be experienced all year round, improving the relationship of society with its environment.

The key actions are:

– Restore the degraded habitats into a finer, richer landscape mosaic:

– On rocky cliffs, extraction of invasive flora to protect the EU’s coastal-rocky endemic communities.

– On the forested hills, diversification and rejuvenation of pine forests into oak forests today compacted by cars or overgrown.

– Coastal and pedestrian into mixed forest with cork-oak with a rich Mediterranean shrub undergrowth.

– Through management and planting, recover patches of coastal open shrubby habitats.

– In urban areas, reducing the density of Alep pine forests to reduce fire risk and to promote succession to bark-oak and holm-oak forests that are already growing in the undergrowth.

– Make available a 4.75+06km restored panoramic coastal path that connects the center of Palamós to Cap Roig Natural Park an eco-social infrastructure that preserves nature, delivers health benefits and values heritage, natural, landscape and cultural heritage.

– Mono-materiality as approach. We work with local rock-materiality as the basis for the construction of 7 paving solutions from ‘zero’ to maxim intervention. With local sauló-rock, from a km.0 quarry, we formulated ‘ad hoc’ concreted, sauló-solid (stabilized rock), stabilized-earth (with sauló), sauló-gravel, and lose sauló, or doing nothing… to adapt to each condition and erosion problems.

– 3,6 newly open or restored pedestrian, car-free coastal-walks that put together former fragmented sections of the path.

– Castell’s beach car park (600 places) has been displaced 500m inland and integrated into the agroforestry mosaic and the former area recovered to agricultural land.

– 14 specific projects in critical areas to dismantle and restore car park zones, design gate areas between the city and the path, rest-point, etc…

– 42 site-specific paths cross-sections responding and celebrating each section’s particularity.

– 19 new viewpoints with very discreet interventions but extraordinary views

– Sublimate the coastal landscape with ‘ad hoc’ minimal interventions that celebrate the materiality and peculiarities of the site.

The whole path has been conceived understanding the path, its views and the ecosystems it crosses as new landscape heritage. Somehow claiming that not only individual buildings, sculptures or punctual art interventions are heritage to be celebrated, but the whole experience from when you live town after zebra crossing to when you swim into a wild beach 5 km away.

The new path is a success. While it welcomes a big number of users, both local and visitors, the landscape and Nature around it is recovering, and more and more citizens are changing their habits to walk on a daily basis while enjoying the sublime landscape, while leaving the car home.

Since its completion, the project has been published into a number of landscape and general magazines and more and more public servants from villages from around EU come to visit the project as an example of social-infrastructure, nature-restoration and landscape heritage at affordable price.

Architecture offices involved in the design: Ardèvol Consultors Associats
Location: Palamós
Design year: 2019
Year Completed: 2021

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