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’.
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).
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.
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.
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