Flowpolis International design competition / second prize
Client: COAC – Collegio de Arquitectos de Canarias
Site: Las Palmas, Spain
Design: Monolab, team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with T. Iwashita, J. Umemura, A. Kret
Year: 2006


…webbing – soft urbanism


By developing the project area between business park, harbor and airport it is impossible to deny the morphology and landscape qualities of Gran Canaria. Our objective is to enhance these original qualities and to distil clearly defined territories for urban programming and landscape. Our proposal delivers a rich network by the interlace or ‘webbing’ of three super contextual territories:
1. Natural flow by ‘landscaped riverbeds’ directed east-west.
2. Urban flow by ‘plateaux’ along the north-south altitudes.
3. Current agricultural ‘pockets’ embedded in-between the two flows.


The riverbeds are perfect natural carriers to connect the coastal area with the interior of Gran Canaria. While most of the year the rivers remain dry, when flowing they follow their current natural paths, of which some need restoration. We clearly define and protect the riverbeds by excavating 4-5 meter of soil with a water flow in the center. We re-use the excavated landmass to build up the plateaux.


Each plateau can have its specific, dedicated urban typology. We applied some typologies in order to research the impact on a smaller, architectural scale.


It is obvious that a contextual network is made by riverbeds and plateaux together. Within this network the local authorities can decide upon their preference for certain urban typologies.


The road system is densified in a natural way by upgrading the existing roads and by an extra major parallel road on the east side of the motorway. An efficient ‘infra grid’ starts to develop, serving the network.


The plateaux are crossed by the riverbeds. At these crossings the riverbeds are transformed into public parks. The crossings are bridged by roads with ‘transparent’ steel grills, uplit at night.


We avoid high volumes, considering that Gran Canaria is too vulnerable for a typology of towers and slabs. Instead we put towers horizontally, floating flat in the water, like programmed piers connected to the coast. We designed groups of piers where the riverbeds meet the ocean.