Transforming public spaces for active communities – Placemaking and Sport project meeting in Valencia

By Katarzyna Kula, ISCA

Sunshine, the lush greenery of Turia Garden Park, and the soft sands of the beach – that's what summer is all about, and it perfectly captured the spirit of another successful Placemaking and Sport project meeting. Representatives from five partner countries – Denmark, Italy, Spain, Malta, and France – along with ISCA and placemaking experts from BG BeActive (Bulgaria) and Gehl (Denmark), gathered once again, this time in Valencia. The project meeting took place from 20-22 June, giving us the chance to witness firsthand how this lively city is.

The third project meeting of the Placemaking and Sport project was a chance not only to discuss the progress of the pilot project being carried out in five partner cities – Matera, Copenhagen, Valencia, Valletta, and Nice – but also to see how the project's goal of encouraging cities and sports organisations to use public spaces more extensively as the setting for sports and physical activities is being put into practice. 

Thanks to the collaboration between our project partner DES and the City of Valencia, we had the opportunity to see how the city uses its natural advantages and inherent strengths to drive its strategy towards becoming a leading international sports hub, while also fostering the activation of the local community. A flagship project arising from the collaboration between DES and the City of Valencia involves renovation of the Turia Garden, a recreational pathway that winds through the city, offering ample public space for physical activities and leisure. DES intends to partner with local community groups, supported by government initiatives, to initiate placemaking efforts. These efforts will focus on developing light infrastructure and enhancing community engagement across the Turia River.

During a roundtable discussion with stakeholders advocating Valencia as a sports-friendly city, it became evident how crucial it is to establish a unified vision for the sustainable development of public spaces and meeting the growing demand for (outdoor) activities in urban areas. Visiting the headquarters of Fundación Trinidad Alfonso, we explored why Valencia is dubbed "the city of running" and debated whether developing sports infrastructure would not only serve sports tourists but also significantly benefit local residents. 

The project partners also had the chance to tour La Marina and its sailing school, as well as Malvarossa beach and the beach volleyball club. Representatives from both organizations emphasised the importance of leveraging natural assets and modifying public spaces to promote physical activity among residents. 

Theory alone isn't enough to transform a public space, and meetings to discuss public space transformation are pointless unless we can immerse ourselves in the host city’s spaces. So strolling through the green paths of Turia Garden, playing a friendly volleyball match on one of the 34 courts, and working out together in the outdoor gym brought the project partners into the action of placemaking and sport. 

Discover more about the project here

Placemaking and sport - Innovative European solutions project is co-funded by European Commission under the Pilot Projects & Preparation Actions (PPPA), PPPA-SPORT-2022 GRASSROOTS-INNOVATION Programme with the following partners: ISCA (lead coordinator); Unione Italiana Sport Per Tutti (UISP), Italy, and Pilot City Matera;  DGI, Denmark, and Pilot City Copenhagen; Deporte Para La Educacion Y La Salud (DES), Spain, and Pilot city Valencia; MOVE Malta and Pilot city Valletta, Azur Sport Sante, France, and Pilot city Nice as well as the experts from  BG Be Active (Bulgaria) and Gehl (Denmark).

Posted on 09/07/2024 by Katarzyna Kula, ISCA

"Project is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them."