Strange Bedfellows

Left: Construction of Instant City, Ibiza, in 1971 (photo
Right: Hotel Algarrobico, Carboneras, Almería, 2010.

The image at left shows the construction of the “Instant City” during the congress of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) of 1971, which was held at the Hotels Cartago and Galeón in Ibiza (visible in the background). The Instant City is currently the subject of a celebratory exhibition at the Macba (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art) titled “La utopía es posible.

The image at right shows the infamous Hotel Algarrobico, construction of which began in the early 2000s within the boundary of the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Park–a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1997. Although it has repeatedly been ordered to be demolished by the courts, this never completed behemoth is still standing to date. As part of a 2007 Greenpeace “action” to raise awareness, the words “hotel ilegal” were painted in large four story high letters on its sea-facing elevation.

The two hotels in these images, whose architecture is not entirely dissimilar, are separated by a distance of only four hundred kilometers and a timespan of only a few decades, yet one is celebrated as the site of an optimistic event that marked a milestone in the cultural modernization of Spain, while another has become the very symbol of political corruption and reckless development in this country. Utopia and dystopia: strange bedfellows indeed.

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