Escuela de Arquitectura de la Universidad Autónoma de México
11th International DOCOMOMO Conference
"Living in the Urban Modernity"
Mexico City, Agust 26, 2010
Until 1960 the acceptance of modernism in rural southeastern Spain had been an incidental phenomenon. However, that decade opened a period full of expectations when some of the biggest names in Spanish architecture arrived in Murcia to work on the development of tourism infrastructures on its unspoiled coast. Among them, Antoni Bonet, who had worked with Le Corbusier and Sert, was appointed to plan La Manga del Mar Menor, a 22 km sand bar that lies between a unique saltwater lagoon and the Mediterranean Sea.
The lack of pre-existing structures and the exceptional qualities of the landscape led him to draw up an ad-hoc urban scheme which concentrated the buildings in clusters of dwellings and facilities organized around 21-floor towers repeated every 1.2 km running along the length of a backbone-like road.
Taking inspiration from Le Corbusier’s plans for Algiers or Buenos Aires, Bonet reverted tothese radical proposal to re-elaborate some of its preliminary ideas: main axis; autonomy and hierarchy of the compact units; location of civic center by the sea; treatment of the waterfront with artificial islands, etc.
An abstract approach to the landscape and its new reading through this set of independent organisms were the basis of the first La Manga urban projects. Bonet underlined the towers as landmarks that opposed the horizontality of the territory to point out the presence of the clusters and thus to make the coast’s natural profile visible from afar.
Nevertheless, in spite of the poetic and experimental aspects of the Plan, the attention paid to detail in the geographical, biological and economic studies conducted for the project shows the feasibility of the architectural solutions and Bonet’s concerns for minimizing their impact on the dune ecosystem. Unfortunately, only a few structures were built and the Bonet Plan was definitively abandoned in the early 70s, turning the promising first steps of La Manga into an urban disaster.