Still waiting… 21 years later!
The ongoing saga of Benidorm's Casa de Cultura - an eyesore on its main access
By Irena Bodnarec BENIDORM’s Casa de Cultura is hopefully not comparable to Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia – the stunning but unfinished Gaudi-designed Basilica, which began in 1882!
The 11,000-square-metre structure, which can only be described as a concrete monster on Avenida Europa, is a blot on the landscape but one that Lourdes Castelles, councillor for town planning in Benidorm, is confident will be addressed in the coming months.
The project for a cultural centre, including a 1,200-seater auditorium plus second smaller one, museum and parking for 400 cars, was proposed back in 1996 with an initial budget of €12 million, however by 2003 this had escalated to €48 million.
It was chosen from one of 93 submissions presented by Juan Navarro Baldeweb, although his estimate was already two million euros, or 1,600 million pesetas as it was then, over the budget earmarked for the project.
The land is owned by the council and was a football pitch until around 2002 – they bought it at a “very good price” on the proviso that it was used and enjoyed by the public and residents of the town.
The plan also included two music conservatories – Benidorm is the only town where it is located in a bullring.
However, with the financial crisis both the town hall and regional government ran out of money to complete the project.
In July of this year a motion was passed to cancel the original plan and they are now waiting to sign off a revised one, which will see the completion of one music conservatory, the smaller of the two auditoriums, a cafeteria and the cladding of the entire outside – minus the car park.
This will mean that to passersby – including the millions of holidaymakers who visit every year, it will look finished and, more importantly, presentable.
The town hall have to replace the metal fencing every few months around the perimeter to stop vandals and squatters entering – a costly matter and paid for out of the town's already stretched budget.
In order to help finance this project, the regional government are selling off land around Terra Mítica which is earmarked for 2,000 new houses.
Benidorm is one of the few towns without a cultural centre, which considering its size, number of visitors and money it brings into the province, is somewhat of an anomaly.
Alfaz del Pi was the first and celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, and neighbouring Altea, Villajoyosa and La Nucía all have impressive buildings which host numerous concerts and functions throughout the year.
In 2006 it was announced that an outside company – Sociedad Parques Temáticos would initially be awarded a 15-year contract to run the centre on its completion, after which it would be handed back to the town hall.
The councillor envisages that works will commence before the end of this year and the plan is to finish Phase 1 by 2019.