2008, Cuenca, Spain

9 March – 5 April 2008

Project Coordinator: Gildo Seisdedos, Spain
Team Leader: Alex MacGregor, Scotland

This UPAT is sponsored by the Municipal Government of Cuenca.

Cuenca is a UNESCO-listed historic city in central Spain, within the region of Castilla-La Mancha. Its location is almost equally distant to Madrid and Valencia, two metropolitan areas of significant and sustained growth forming the emerging axis Lisbon-Madrid-Valencia.

The current population of 53,000 inhabitants has grown with a rate of 2.49 per cent annually in the last five years, mainly due to immigration. The inflow of young Latin American, Rumanian and North African population contrasts with the ageing trend in the local population.

The city’s topography has greatly influenced its expansion pattern. The northern part is shaped by the “Serranía de Cuenca” mountain range and the riverbeds of the Júcar and Huécar rivers, of spectacular beauty. Within the municipal boundaries there is a significant amount of woodlands, covering an area of more than 53,000 hectares with 55,000 cubic metres of timber.

Cuenca’s economic base comprises light industry, warehousing and construction, which according to municipal sources accounts for more than a half of the industrial workforce. The tertiary sector (services), which is strongly related to public administration, employs 80 per cent of the economically active population. Although Cuenca attracts a number of regional students to its universities, the city offers very limited employment opportunities for highly qualified individuals. This forces a significant amount of recent graduated students to look for work elsewhere.

Cuenca is on the high speed train network, AVE in Spanish, on the line that links Madrid and Valencia, which is under construction at this time. Upon its completion, expected by 2010, Cuenca will be 45 minutes to Madrid and 30 minutes to Valencia. The future AVE Cuenca station will be located at the South of the city, in an area currently separated from the urban fabric.

UPAT Focus

Cuenca is currently exploring strategic growth options that would take advantage of the opportunities brought about the new rail infrastructure whilst maintain its current quality of life.

The areas for UPAT focussed on:

Ideas for improved mobility: how to enhance Cuenca’s mobility; introduction of “clean” public transport systems such as light rail or tram, which would link the future AVE station and the consolidated city; reorganisation of current bus lines; strategy for private vehicle usage, including traffic calming, and car park facilities; areas suitable for pedestrianisation in the city centre; introduction of soft mobility such as bicycle rental schemes, amongst other mobility issues.

Ideas for valorising the city centre: how to retain, and enhance, the vitality of the city centre; introduction of new activities whilst avoiding further congestion; opportunities for adaptive reuse of existing buildings; identifying opportunities for new development; linkage to public transport reorganisation, traffic calming, pedestrianisation and soft mobility policy.

Ideas for reusing land currently occupied by rail tracks: how to best use the area released by the relocation of rail tracks n the heart of the city; landscaping a new linear park; introduction of new buildings and functions; park and ride facilities; and laying out a light train that would run through this linear park to link with future AVE station.

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