Spanish tile revives a seaside community
June 23, 2010
Stretching for nearly a mile along the coast of southern Spain, the Benidorm West Beach Promenade is a vibrant pedestrian walkway that reflects the colors of a rainbow. Rebuilding the promenade with brightly colored circular porcelain tile, which were custom made by Tile of Spain branded manufacturer Keramia Cerámicas of Castellón, Spain, was part of the city of Benidorm’s revitalization efforts to breathe life back into its seaside community.
The design was the vision of architects Carlos Ferrater and Xavier Martí Galí of OAB (Office of Architecture) in Barcelona, Spain. During the creative process, it was important to develop a new pedestrian walkway that would be visually stimulating while still maintaining its function.
“To build a privileged place between the earth and the water - between the city and the beach,” was among the design goals for the project, according to Ferrater. “[Additionally], we wanted to obtain this through organic geometric chaos - creating an abstraction of wave movements, fusion forms that entwine to make different passageways and rest areas and platforms raised over the landscape, which allow a complete view of the horizon,” explained the architect.
Customizing the colors
In total, 22 customized colors were developed by Keramia for the promenade project. “Keramia was the ceramic manufacturer which met all the specifications in texture, flexibility, anti-slip, colors, etc.,” said Ferrater. “The color is the underlying element of the design.”
Keramia worked very closely with the architect to create just the right shades, according to Rogelio Vila Rodríguez, Technical Director of Keramia. “The color was very important to the architect,” he said. “He knew a general idea about colors, but we worked every day to develop them.”
As pedestrians and beach-goers walk the promenade, the surface transitions from green to yellow, orange, red, violet and blue. “The color relates to legibility and signage,” explained Ferrater. “It helps to create a fluid effect intensified by the changing hues - symbolic of the pleasures experienced while on vacation. It incorporates Mediterranean tradition, which mirrors nature’s own color scheme - from the greens to the yellows, oranges, reds, violets, lilacs and blues.”
According to Rodríguez, almost 140,000 square feet of Spanish tile was specially manufactured for the promenade project. The production process was completed in approximately three to four months.
“We had to look for special materials and special glazes,” said Rodríguez. “The tile has to always look like it did the first day. If it wasn’t glazed, it wouldn’t have such color.”
From design to construction, the entire project took about three to four years to complete. As the city of Benidorm lives on tourism, the new West Beach promenade was a critical component to the city’s revitalization. A party was held in July of 2009 to celebrate its completion.
“We have always been a specialist in exterior tile, but we never did something as special as this,” said Rodríguez. “We now promote this, and offer tiles for this purpose.”
With the project being such a success, the city of Benidorm intends to continue the promenade further down the coastline. “The promenade draws the community together,” said Ferrater. “The reaction has been one of absolute acceptance and enthusiasm on the part of the regular users, visitors, administrative personnel, etc. - and also those from the intellectual and cultural community.”
For OAB’s work on the West Beach Promenade, the architectural firm was awarded First Prize in the Architecture category of the Tile of Spain Awards competition. The firm was honored at a ceremony, which was held during Cevisama 2010 in Valencia, Spain,” said Rodríguez. “We now promote this, and offer tiles for this purpose.”