Marina de Cope Resort and Residential Masterplan
Biodiversity by Design, in collaboration with the celebrated landscape practice Studio Engleback (a collaboration that works under the umbrella name of Savia Nueva), advised on the redevelopment of 25 square kilometres of southern coastal Spain in the province of Murcia. The Site had a very special setting, the encompassing mountains that create a giant amphitheatre effect. Much of the site had been designated a Regional Park for its wildlife interest.
Previous concepts for the Site were re-evaluated in terms of viability both in terms of impacts on valued habitats and in terms of ecotourism principles. A new focus was brought on the site’s ‘environmental capital’, and a completely different development pathway suggested in the light of the global climate change, changing economic circumstances and increasing environmental awareness.
The review indicated how redevelopment could best capitalise on the special qualities of the Site, emphasized tranquillity and escape in an otherwise overdeveloped south-east coast. Central to this concept was a plan for habitat restoration and protection in both terrestrial and marine environments (especially the adjacent internationally important seagrass beds). This was proposed as a first-stage intervention rather than as a phase following the built development. Sustainable options to reduce the environmental impacts of meeting water demands (including those associated with desalination) were suggested. Ecological and low-water concepts for golf courses were also proposed as were demonstration solar desalination plants.
Proposals were set out for high-density but also heavily ‘greened’ tourist and residential dwellings to make more space for habitat restoration. A car-restricted masterplan was proposed – leaving cars at the Site margins and promoting other modes of transport within the Site itself through beautifully designed shaded greenways.
The possibility of achieving this vision is still alive today. There is a very strong lobby prepared to countenance development in this key remaining semi-natural area of the southern Spanish coast only in the context of restoration of habitats in the Regional Park; and of the natural qualities of the dramatic and expansive coastal landscape.