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Palma's people friendly port

Rambla de Mar

Like many places in the world where old, industrial ports – many in disuse – have been redeveloped to make them people friendly recreational areas and living spaces, Palma is now following suit. The Balearic Ports Authority which looks after the main ports of the islands has long harboured (yes, pun intended) plans to turn the older part of Palma's port area into such an area.

Several plans for the use of various buildings had been submitted and rejected, and so the authority organised a competition with a more holistic approach to the redevelopment of the whole area with certain ideas already in place which had to be included in the proposals.

The winner, after much consideration, was a scheme called Rambla de Mar by architects Toni Forteza and Pere Rabassa which created a comfortable yet practical space to combine work and leisure as well as the historical and cultural aspects of the fishermen's port.

Based round a pedestrianised 'spinal column, the area connects the city and its Paseo Maritimo right down to the sea. As the name Rambla suggests, it's a predominantly traffic free – though there is access for vehicles – stroll zone which passes by the new Maritime Museum and the fishermen's Lonja or market.

Existing buildings will be used and the magnificent long edifice with the beautiful ogival arches will be crowned with a restaurant, cafe and mirador with fabulous views of the cityscape. Now, if you think those arches (see photo) give it a look of the Doge's Palace in Venice, then you're in good company, because the architects have planned a 'lookout tower' which almost doubles as the campanile in St Mark's square.

I think it's a beautiful scheme. It's practical, creates a wonderful recreational space, and unites the city with the sea in a way which is redolent of one of the world's most beautiful places, Venice. In fact, swap that rowing boat for a gondola in the architects' illustration and it could be the grand canal!

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