No Paved Paradise, No Parking Lot
It was the smallest city in Spain that I got to visit, and I was warned there would be “a few things to see,” but nothing like a Barcelona or Madrid. Yet for me, the visit to the city of Cartagena on the Southeastern Coast of Spain was the highlight of the trip. And of course, it was the glass that made it so.
It all began with the tour guide, Irena. She told a very American story of capitalism with a true Spanish flavor. It seems a local businessman had bought a piece of downtown property with the goal of building a desperately-needed parking lot in the southwestern part of the city. His company broke ground and, within a few days, hit something. That something was very hard and looked very old—ancient, almost.
And that’s exactly what it was, because the construction crew had dug right smack into a set of pre-Roman ruins. After some archaeological study and carbon-dating, it was determined that the ruins were in fact the original Punic Wall around Cartagena, dated back to 3000 BC. The wall, it seems, is 5,000 years old.
And then they discovered more ruins—only these were 1,800 years younger and included a meeting area and mortuary, all within the wall. They dated to approximately 1200 B.C.
Thus, the parking lot idea ended in ruin, but the property owner did not mind too much, because his blacktop had been replaced with a priceless antiquity. Now came the question of how to display and share this incredibly well-preserved example of pre-
Hence the Punic Wall Interpretation Centre was built. But how to display? That’s where glass comes in.
The Centre’s innovative design incorporates glass in an explosion of prepositions—about, above, behind, beside, below, etc.—to provide a unique and all-encompassing 360-degree view of the Wall and other structures across a number of elevations.
Because of the glass—and only because of the glass—you can get a full and complete feeling of the structure. Even the ramps rising half a story over parts of the ruins are made of glass. Now, I’ve seen plenty of glass flooring before, but never a full-span rising glass ramp. It made me proud that the material I cover so closely can do things and provide vistas that no other material on earth can.
The ruins are a timeless treasure; so too is the glass.