Regional landscape recreation within an European cultural megaproject. The Spanish case of the “Forest of Galicia”

Authors: José Vila Vázquez*, LabEx DynamiTe - UMR 8504 Géographie-Cités. University of Paris 1
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural Geography, Landscape
Keywords: Spain, Galicia, cultural megaproject, landscape design, signature architect, monumentality, place branding, perception, identity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Before the global economic crisis, different European governments invested in cultural megaprojects characterized by monumentality and place-branding strategies. (Balke, Reuber and Wood, 2018). I aim to analyse the use of image policies on landscape projects in the current neoliberal context (Zukin, 2009; Kaika and Ruggiero, 2016).

The paper focus on the study case of the Forest of Galicia, part of the megaproject of the City of Culture in Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain). My hypothesis is that the reorganization of public space in this Spanish case follows a marketing strategy based on constructing an emblematic place that increases the visibility of the project in order to attract international investments. The current landscape design proposal implies a controversial transformation of a traditional agrarian landscape and its recreation for identity purposes. The analysis of the design of the signature architect Peter Eisenman, urban planning documents, and semi-structured interviews with the local agents involved, lead us to an interpretation of this new monumental landscape. First, I propose studying the realization of the megaproject of the City of Culture within its spatial context. Second, I analyse the design of the Forest of Galicia, a reconstruction of the Galician landscape. Finally, I study the commemoration and identity policies in this place, in relation to the perception of local population.Results reveals a paradox: this design have contributed to destroy the authentic landscape and now produces a simulacrum of regional landscape for branding. Local population slides from criticism into acceptance of this green urban space.

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