It’s Good to Dream Sometimes (2023-ongoing)

In the 1950s mayor Pedro Zaragoza sought to transform his home town of Benidorm, Spain from a sleepy fishing village of 1,500 residents to a modern seaside resort which he claimed would be a ‘pan-European holiday utopia’. To accomplish this Zaragoza brought in running water via pipeline from a nearby spring and was able to convince the then dictator Francisco Franco (who desperately needed an influx of foreign currency) to allow the wearing of bikinis on the beach, much to the chagrin of the catholic church who threatened to install a road sign renaming Benidorm ‘hell’.

The 1956 Plan General de Ordenación was designed around Zaragoza’s utopian dream to build up rather than out offering sea views for all, resulting in an urban concentration rather than an urban sprawl. What followed was an unruly period of development often funded by holiday companies from outside of Spain struggling to keep up with the demand for the new, affordable, Fordist-style package holiday. Benidorm shifted from a ‘carefully tended isolationism…to coarse cosmopolitanism’ (Meades).

Visitor numbers in Spain, mainly from the working and lower-middle classes rose from 2.5million to 43.2 million from 1955 to 1985. For many it offered the first opportunity to travel in semi-familiar surroundings and, for those with limited holiday entitlement, an important opportunity to be together.

This ongoing project examines how this accelerated period of development and consumption shapes the landscape and experiences in Benidorm today. The work engages with Benidorm politically, aesthetically, and historically with the use of vintage postcards designed to refer to past memory and the yearning of visitors to often look toward the past.

Benidorm remains a demotic space full of the contradictions of a utopia with areas familiarized and domesticated by its facades. It is both foreign and recognisable, free but confined, temporary and permanent. It is also an accessible example of harmonious coexistence and a monument to the architecture of amusement.