ST 2023 | venga cala figueraCopyright: © Jonas Ueding
venga cala figuera – Plans for a neglected Village on the East Coast of Mallorca
Master's Thesis by Jonas Ueding
Mallorca is an island of extremes. Its history is marked by cruel conquests and poverty as well as by great commercial power and wealth, its natural environment brings together high mountains, marshlands and kilometers of sandy beaches on a small area – while about 912,000 inhabitants in 2022 faced a good 13.2 million international tourists. Mallorca is Ballermann and S'Arenal, is excess and crowds. But Mallorca is also mountain and fishing villages, deceleration and tranquility.
Cala Figuera, located on the southeastern cliffs of the island, is such a fishing village. The "Bay of Figs", translating the village name, has retained its picturesque originality in the harbor arms to this day. Nevertheless, mass tourism triggered a boom that lasted several decades and resulted in heavy construction activity above the harbor. At the turn of the millennium, the decline came slowly but inexorably: gradually, all the clubs on the cliff, most of the hotels and restaurants closed. Left behind for a long time were uninhabited houses and hotel ruins, most of which have only been demolished in recent years. Several sites have recently been developed with high-priced residential complexes, but elsewhere there are still vacancies and wasteland – while the lower-lying, landmarked natural harbor and the adjoining promenade with restaurants attract tourists as much as ever.
The big discrepancy between the idyll at the waterfront and the desolate condition of the higher situated part of the village has been part of discussions for years and regularly leads to harsh statements like "Cala Figuera is actually no longer salvageable". The aim of this thesis is to show, at least in an academic context, that a "rescue" could very well be possible: The multitude of plots of land that are currently undeveloped or that have just been freed from ruins serves as inspiration. Here, nothing that has already been built prevents from thinking about utopias freely.
The design aims to create urbanity in a new center of Cala Figuera, it should give space for the community to flourish and contribute to an improved relationship of locals and tourists.
As a central design element, the "Sala Figuera" event hall has been created on a new plaza. It is the hub of the new local center: Not only can neighbors come together to cook, eat or work together, concerts and readings, art workshops or wedding celebrations will also take place here.
Clad in the regionally ubiquitous limestone "piedra de Santanyí", which is available without long transport routes, the building vaults a large public foyer with an adjoining patio on the first floor and an event hall on the upper floor, whose visitors can step out onto the loggia facing the plaza as well as onto the roof of the rooms arranged around the patio.
Accomodation and gastronomy
As a counterpoint to the almost monumental facade of the "Sala Figuera", a second building serves as the western boundary of the plaza, which is public on the first floor and private on the upper floors: a restaurant and a café with a small bakery form the generously windowed base of the structure, while on the upper floor there is space for four small apartments in recessed structures that share a large, circumferential terrace.
This design also makes use of "piedra de Santanyí", but deliberately avoids extravagance. It quotes, for example, with its traditionally covered, gabled roofs Mallorcan and also local traditions of residential building. At the same time, elements such as the balcony railings that take up the round arch motif of pergolas and "Sala Figuera" are intended to bring a certain lightness to the rigidity of the design and show that the historical example does not have to be followed to the last detail.