robert harding pittman

Concrete Coast + Info

The advent of mass coastal tourism was in Spain in the 1960’s, in a time when the Franco government badly needed money and when people in the north of Europe had more income and vacation time than ever before. New touristic complexes were rapidly and cheaply built on Spain’s warm Mediterranean coast. Over the past decade there has been a second construction boom on the Spanish coast consisting of large urbanizations with golf courses, meant mainly for retired British, Germans and other northern Europeans. In 2005, two hectares of land were being urbanized per hour in Spain. Even though the development has temporarily stopped, due to speculation, overbuilding, and the resulting economic crisis, the plans for more projects have not. There is almost no spot left on the Spanish Mediterranean coastline that has not been cemented over.

The architecture consists of anonymous concrete blocks, devoid of any Spanish origins, in order to make the predominantly northern European tourists feel as much at home as possible in a much more pleasant climate. In surveys tourists say they come to Spain for the sun, the beaches and the low prices, but not for the culture. Do beach resorts have their own unique culture and architecture? Is this the architecture of “paradise”? Will this continued development of this “constructed paradise” with its non-native palm trees, irrigated golf lawns and artificial beaches destroy the very nature that attracts tourists to the coast? Is the Mediterranean coast of Spain still Spanish?