Francine has had the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias [the City of Arts and Sciences] in Valencia on her hit list for some time. We’ve formerly braved the Spanish trains and travelled in to the city centre but the Arts and Sciences complex lies a little further out on the city’s eastern edge. A cab ride after the train would be possible but our pal who went to La Mancha with us was also up for a visit and offered to drive. There’s a big covered car park on site. Nice one, Jim.
What is the site? Built in an old riverbed (the river was drained and rerouted after a bad flood), it s a collection of six imaginatively and futuristically architected buildings, mostly brilliant white, housing arts centres and a science museum. Five of the buildings are brilliant white. The sixth and last to be built (in 2009), the so-called Agora, is, for some unaccountable reason a rather jarring [personal opinion] dark blue. It also seems to have fallen into disuse and currently stands empty, though works appear to be in progress.
Here’s a shot showing most of the site. immediately over the bridge is L’Hemisfèric (1998), including an IMAX cinema, planetarium and laserium. Behind that is El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe (2000), the science museum, followed by El Pont de l’Assut de l’Or (2008), a cable-stayed bridge which mercifully somewhat softens L’Àgora (2009). Whoever decided to destroy the otherwise harmonious integrity of the complex should be shot, IMHO. All L’Àgora needs is a coat of Dulux brilliant white. 😀 Just sneaking in on the right of the picture is L’Umbracle (2001), a sort of open, glassless greenhouse structure topping the multi-storey car park and housing palm trees and other plants.
As you see from the above, the buildings are largely surrounded by water which can make for some impressive reflections, given the right conditions, i.e. no wind causing ripples. Regrettably, from a wildlife enthusiast’s viewpoint, all the water is utterly sterile – lifeless. Well, except for the team of men in waders vacuuming the pools clean.
The site itself is freely open to the public but the buildings have entrance fees. We chose to go into the science museum [left of picture] – echoes of childhood visits to London, I suppose. Frankly, I was underwhelmed, though maybe I’d be underwhelmed by the science museum in London, these days. I’m not a great museum fan at the best of times. The exhibits in here seemed to be designed to entertain the younger minds rather than necessarily to educate, though some education would be likely to rub off. There also seemed to be an awful lot of empty space being put to no use whatsoever.
Hidden by L’Àgora is L’Oceanogràfic (2003), an open air oceanographic park, which is more expensive to get into. I now suspect that would be more satisfying, so maybe on another visit.
Behind the viewpoint on that general picture is El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (2005), an opera house and performing arts centre.The roof of this structure absolutely amazed me. The building reminded me of a humpback whale porpoising. Seen from one side [front?], the roof, which had the appearance of the whale’s top jaw, seems to hang magically in mid-air, “just the way bricks don’t” [to quote the late, great Douglas Adams],with no visible means of support. When we walked around the other end of the building [back?], the support structure is seen but it is still quite incredible, a single angled anchor point bearing the weight of the entire curved roof structure. Quite staggering; just imagine the cantilever forces acting on that single support point.
Architecturally, we thought the complex very impressive, Not bad for a self-confessed art numbskull, such as myself. One word of warning to would be visitors, though: beware of being run down by the many bicycles as you gawp at the buildings. 😉
We need to go back for some night shots, now we know how to get there.