Led by Aga Khan Design Critic in Landscape Architecture Arancha Muñoz-Criado (MLA ’92), the Spring 2018 option studio “Ecology, Culture and Identity: Revitalizing the Cultural Landscape of the Huerta of Valencia, Spain” explored sustainable solutions for the future of Valencia and its historically-significant agricultural surroundings known as the Huerta. Recent graduate Kevin Fu (MArch ’18) shares photography and thoughts from the studio’s site visit to Spain.
Text and photos by Kevin Fu (MArch '18)
The region known as the Huerta of Valencia bears many layers of history, from Roman occupation to Islamic conquest, during which time its famous, and still functioning, irrigation system was established. Similar to many other agricultural areas around the world, the Spanish landscape faced the threat of urban expansion in the 20th century. While a recently passed law now forbids further development into the Huerta, our studio argued that legal protection alone does not necessarily guarantee the long-term survival of the region and its culture. We saw this problematic reality firsthand during our studio trip and in our meetings with local stakeholders. Clearly the situation cannot be solved with just one building, or one park; hence the studio took the challenge to intervene systematically in order to preserve the identity of this precious landscape.