Thursday, 8 July 2010


Promenade is a word that I came across several times within the past few days without really knowing what it means. The definition in the dictionary says "a leisurely walk in a public space or a social activity", and the intervention by OAB in Benidorm's sea front is a perfect visual aid of what the word means.

Benidorm was developed in the 1960s as tourist oriented with the construction of hotels and skyscrapers along the coast. Before the intervention, a long stretch of the seaside (1.5km) ran parallel to a four lane road and ground level parking spaces. (Unfortunately, this is how the beaches surrounding our beautiful island of Bahrain look at the present time) In the 70s, it was covered with paving and the sea views were obstructed with a 1.2m high concrete balustrade which provided access to the sand every 200 meters.

The intervention was aimed to improve the seafront facade by creating a coherent access to the beach and a visual relationship between the sea and the city. A method that proved to be much more successful for tourism than invading the seafront with high rise buildings. The new "promenade" serves as a transition between the skyscrapers and the beach. The structure consist of walls of white concrete with terraces, garden plots, stairs and ramps, animated by a joyful interplay of coloured tiles. The concave and convex shapes and surfaces are inspired from the waves and cliffs. The result is not only a transitional space, but an area with its own lifestyle allowing for play, leisure and meditation.

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