El Saler per al poble: Architecture and Political Transformation in Spain through the Planning Project of La Dehesa de El Saler

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Tourism in Spain played a crucial role in the great economic development during late Francoism (ca. 1960-75). This topic has generally been discussed from a political or environmental point of view without considering the role of the design process related to both approaches. In this paper, the question of power and tourism will be disentangled through the lens of planning and urban design and their relation to local and national power structures.
It argues that the design of spaces for tourism characterised the economical and political system due to a close relation between legislation, private investments and local policy-making. As a consequence, tourism and its planning had to mutate towards a new paradigm along with the transformation of the regime towards a more competitive economy.

The paper starts by analysing the state of Francoism and the role of tourism between the end of the civil war (1939) and the explosion of mass tourism (1960’s) by exploring its urban and architectural models and the ways in which they served as an introduction to its later massive boost. The Franco state used planning and politics as a powerful means of national development after the 1960’s, as several examples demonstrate. The transformation of tourism’s planning model along with social and political change are especially well reflected in the urban planning project ‘La Dehesa de El Saler’ by Julio Cano Lasso and its successive modifications. The core of the paper explores that particular example as it exposes the affiliation between the local power of Valencia, the national government and planning decisions. A study of different stages of the design in relation to the social and political situation shows how the critical attitude towards an authoritarian and environmentally destructive way of planning engaged within Valencian citizens as the country took the road towards democracy. Through an integrated analysis of socio-political development and planning, the conclusion explores the importance of opposition to planning injustices as a tool for enriching democratic behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event17th IPHS Conference History-Urbanism-Resilience - Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 17 Jul 201621 Jul 2016


Conference17th IPHS Conference History-Urbanism-Resilience
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