Elche’s Wheel, the most sustainable strategy

Thousands of words have been written about the influence of the current economical crisis in the construction business. However, we think that this fact has accelerated the birth of a new architectural thinking that applied to the architecture production will generate intelligent and substantial ideas, and leave behind the sensationalistic architecture of quick consumption.

We are aware of the large influence that economy has in architecture and we believe more than ever that strategies, rather than shapes, are the only valid answers to today’s demands. In our careers as architects, the competition for the Mirador del Palmeral has been the first chance to create an emblem for the city where the landscape plays a crucial role and where the admiration of it is the reason-to-be of this icon. This fact rises the challenge: How to design an icon that should deviate the attention into something else? Besides this fact, this cultural landscape has been declared UNESCO World heritage since 2000, so the intervention has to be sensitive to the criterias dictated by UNESCO. Moreover, in this period of financial collapse and extreme preoccupation for sustainability, it would be and hypocrisy to close the eyes and produce another icon like all the previous ones. Lets take this chance to rethink deeply, to focus our intelligence in a strategy rather than in the egocentric and frozen architecture (=icon) so characteristic from the last years. Why should we put all the weight in an obsolete architectonic element with a limited “iconic” life?

Without denying the representative character of this program, we propose an a-temporal emblem, intelligent and flexible; capable of fulfilling all the requirements and able to recover its investment in less than three years. We need an imaginative solution. The City budget is 10 mill €. We propose a wheel for Elche. The wheel is resistant to fashion, style, and time. The wheel is an intelligent and rational structure; representative and beautiful, powerful and transparent. The Wheel is the perfect union between FORM and FUNCTION. The Wheel is a strategy. The Wheel is a rational icon, a sustainable icon, a narrative icon, an unlimited icon, a pure icon, the Rethought icon. Trying to explode the full potential of the intervention, we propose three scenarios with different levels of investment. From the initial mirador complex to a common building mirador-station with a connection to the train platforms and underground parking. The Mirador and the Palmeral will be the welcome image of the city.

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