On Modern Monuments 


Mankind has been fascinated with building something that lasts forever since time immemorial – consider the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, now lost to the annals of time, but not to memory! There’s something so human about wanting to create a monument – a mix of pride in self and society, a desire to push the envelope, and a wish to impact the future.

While we are often inspired by the classic monuments of the past, perhaps nothing exemplifies a modern monument as much as Santiago Calatrava’s Science City in Valencia. A testament of our times, it has been designed for the future. Let’s decode how.

Form, structure, and function

Known as a “City within a City”, The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia is a large-scale urban recreation center for culture and science. Occupying a space of 350,000 square meters, this project was designed to revitalise the city of Valencia, and create a modern monument that connected its past to its future. Inspired by aesthetic traditions of the region, such as the light blue and white hues, this city is also defined by Calatrava’s unique style of architecture which is bold and unapologetic – a worthwhile representation of the city and its people.

The use of colour indigenous to the region. Image credit: Avontuura

The City has multiple spaces such as the Palau de Les Artes Reina Sofía, L’Umbracle, and the L’Hemisferic, among others, that house multiple forms of arts and technology. The aim of the City is to not only astound but to engage – and it has become the most visited-destination in Valencia, inviting not just visitors but the local citizens who look upon it as a destination for learning, embedded in the city’s psyche.

This marriage of architecture and intention has been at the backbone of Valencia’s involvement. Its roots lie in the Valencian Autonomous Government and the University of Valencia – making it for the people, by the people. The City not just changed the way Valencia functions, but also its role as a dynamic space evolved. It also created over 3000 jobs – a haven for a quiet city.

Past, present, and future, juxtaposed

And, hence, the need for Modern Monuments can only be answered when public will is backed by governmental ambition. A desire to create a long-lasting legacy, one to serve their people, and to encourage them to serve the city better.

City and people exist intertwined – and it’s monuments serve both.                 

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