LARNACA SALINA PARK
Location: Cyprus – Larnaca
Plot Size: 14,102 m²
Built Surface Area: 60 m²
Perhaps one of the biggest problems in Cyprus in the field of architecture, town planning and landscaping, is the fact that we tend to forget, ignore and not give the appropriate importance and promotion to the rich history of our country and/or each of its cities individually.
This rich history of thousands of years defined our architectural heritage, culture, customs, traditions, vegetation and even the flavors and odors with which we grew up and which we encounter in our everyday life, in the society, the city, the village and even in the kitchen of our home.
International inspirations, let alone in architecture, whereby one can refer to a huge palette of ideas, methods of construction, materials, colors and shapes, but it is equally important to remember our roots, our identity, our authenticity as a people, which is what makes each and every one of us so different from all the other peoples.
The very palette of our own country, historically, culturally and geographically is in itself the biggest inspirations of all.
Larnaca of Zenon Kitieus, the Salt Lake, the Old Aqueduct, the Patticheion Theatre, the Medieval Castle, Ancient Kiti, the Archaeological Museum, the old Zenon Gymnastics Club, the Municipal Theatre, the Municipal Library, the Pancyprian Gymnasium, the Evryviadion Gymnasium, the American Academy, the Phoenician Trees Coastal Strip, the Marina, the Port and the Salina Municipal Park, are all worth much more than a simple, public intervention, like all others, with identical activities, vegetation varieties, materials, interventions, sources of inspiration and references.
The Larnaca Salina Municipal Park, as the word itself implies, deserves to symbolize, refer to and project the rich historical, cultural, and social reference of its name, which applies not only to the Salt Collection (Salines) of the Salt Lake itself during the Venetian rule, but also to its historical and geographical evolution within the above-mentioned locations, activities and functions which, if anything, have contributed and marked the history and development of the city of Larnaca to this day.
Our responsibility and obligation is therefore to ensure that such historical, cultural, social, traditional and geographical references remind and inspire the residents, visitors, young and old, what Larnaca and Cyprus are all about.
Larnaca, let alone Cyprus, are not just about the sea and/or the mountains, tall buildings, concrete, asphalt, roads, cafeterias, shopping malls tourist resorts and attractions.
Larnaca, let alone Cyprus, represents nature, traditional vegetation, salt, arches, history, culture, education and social awareness.
The aim and purpose of the main idea and proposal for the Salina Municipal Park, is the personification and evolution of the history and heritage of the city of Larnaca, in relation to the direct geographical, cultural and social stimuli of the area, by the formation of a public park whose vegetation, landscaping, architectural interventions, activities, materials, colors, trees, plants, herbs, paths, urban furnishings, lighting, appear, smell and sound like Larnaca.
The initial idea and inspiration derives from nature itself and its components, whereby the creation of the design, architectural interventions, volumes, materials, colors and activities of the park, are first presented through the relation between the stipules of a leaf, the stalk, the stem and the branches metaphorically representing the natural pathways and circulation.
The parallelism of the shapes of a leaf with those of the dried earth and their symbolic association with the collection of salt from the Salines of the Larnaca Salt Lake during the Venetian rule, becomes the link between the earth and the leaf, through the roots and branches of the plants and trees and through which water circulates and becomes the main component of life, nature and gastronomy.
The botanical labyrinth becomes the personification of the 'culture' of the park through the plants and herbs that symbolize the Cypriot history, cultural identity, social customs and traditional gastronomy.
In an era of globalisation, industrialization, destruction of nature and the environment, the return to our roots, literally and figuratively, by organic methods of self-sufficiency, production and exploitation, seems to be an ideal starting point for social and environmental awareness.
The main references and inspirations in relation to the various physical characteristics of the location contribute to the completion of the idea and configuration of the park.
Within the Larnaca Salina Municipal Park one shall be able to walk, exercise, rest and learn from the various thematic activities and exhibitions, in the form of photographs and/or projections, but also take part in various educational and/or educational programs related to the functions and activities of the park, via the intermediary of mobile training units.
The functions and activities of the park, hence not just another public green space, are inspired by the basic public use and main component of the park, namely the vegetation, but also in relation to its symbolic name, Larnaca Salina Municipal Park, salt becomes a protagonist as an important gastronomical ingredient of the Cyprus food chain.
Even though gastronomy is term which has lately become a fashionable trend, it is quite misunderstood as it means nothing more than the study of the relationship between food and culture.
Deriving from the Latin word 'cultura' and from the verb 'colere', hence to 'cultivate', the word 'culture' is literally interpreted as 'education' in Greek.
Hence, if we were to use symbolic and gastronomic terms, the recipe of the proposal of the Salina Municipal Park and its main ingredients, is none other than traditional Cypriot vegetation, with a pinch of salty symbolism, historically, figuratively and/or even literally speaking.
The various trees, aromatic plants and herbs inspire the thematic informational, educational, cultural and traditional events, activities, functions and services.
The separation of the park from Griva Digenis Avenue on the North boundary occurs via the construction of a metal mesh in the form of symbolic arches and columns that refer to the old Aqueduct and the ancient Kition era.
The grid allows the spread of climbing plants throughout the length and height of the façade, with built-in lighting, irrigation system and public exhibition of images and photographs, stretching along and throughout the East boundary and other punctual locations of the park such as the amphitheatre, sports areas, specially designed playgrounds and the Southern border of public parking spaces.
The main entrance of the park occurs through symbolic botanical hills that refer to the Salines of Larnaca Salt Lake during the Venetian rule, when the collection of salt was accumulated in the form of hills and pyramids.
The creation of natural circulation pathways between the landscaped domes and amphitheatrical vegetation planters, enhanced by traditional Cypriot vegetation, aromatic plants and herbs, enrich the senses activated during one’s walk through the park, but can also be used in the various functions and activities related to health, through exercise and gastronomy.
Sports areas and children's activities take form creating various architectural elements with naturally recycled materials such as tree trunks and ropes which can be used for various physical education activities such as climbing and for craft workshops and educational activities in relation to nature and environmental awareness.
The creation of hills that enclose small squares, create gathering places for children but also a sense of security for parents who can monitor and control their children via the intermediary of landscaped, sustainable, ecological and environmental urban furniture with multiple uses and functions associated to mobile technology applications.
The landscaped amphitheatre is ideal for performances, training and educational programs and/or thematic entertainment events with dancing waters and exhibition surfaces, images, photographs and summer cinema screenings projected on canvases stretched on the grid structure extension of the symbolic arch features.
The botanical cultivation gardens, in combination with the specially designed space for use by the mobile units of educational and thematic activities, create meeting points within walking distance of the specially designed areas for children’s educational programs and games.
The amphitheatrical and landscaped stretches in the main square are ideal for various educational activities during the day, while in the evening they can be transformed to entertainment platforms where small artistic performances such as lighting and dancing water projections occur.
Lighting is undoubtedly one of the most important elements of the park since it not only acts as a safety parameter but also highlights the main features, notably the landscaped traditional Cypriot vegetation and the symbolic architectural elements of construction such as the arches and columns that refer to the old Larnaca Aqueduct and the ancient Kition era.
All architectural elements, interventions and urban furniture are also inspired by nature itself, in terms of shapes, materials and colors, with oxidized metal and wood dominating the palette of materials.
Renewable energy sources and the sustainable design of the various lightweight structures and/or urban furnishings, combined with integrated technology, also contribute to the ecological and environmental approach of the whole proposal, which will be promoted through the various educational activities and events of the park.
The aim and purpose of the insertion of technology is to communicate and exchange information, not only with the various activities of the park itself, but also with the various schools, gymnasiums and academies in the immediate surrounding area, creating a network of social, cultural and educational awareness, behavior and response, molding the Larnaca Salina Municipal Park into much more than just a green lung in the city centre.