Social life today

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The Cabanyal continues to be a lively residential area, with less atmospheric and sound pollution than the rest of the city. The neighbourhood is made up mainly of terraced single family houses with an East-West orientation which benefits from the sea breezes, there is little traffic on most of its streets and many side-streets are pedestrianized. Lacking a Regulatory Special Plan, the Cabanyal-Canyamelar has spent the last fifteen years excluded from the Valencian Town Planning Scheme (P.O.U.V.), which has meant the deterioration of the area, due to restrictions on the restoration of old houses and the building of new ones.

The Cabanyal’s present population is 21,326. As in all Valencia’s historic centres, it has suffered a population decrease in the last 30 years, which is characteristic of the growth of large cities – although it should be noted that there are 14 neighbourhoods in the city which have at present a larger population drain then the Cabanyal-Canyamelar.

Neighbourhood Year 1970 Year 1996 % Demographic fall
Ciutat Vella 56.391 24.027 57’4%
L’Eixample 72.748 45.082 38’1%
El Cabanyal 32.312 21.326 34’0%

Comparative Table of the fall in population in the three historic centres of the city of Valencia, declared B.I.C. (Asset of Cultural Interest).

As for commercial activities, it should be pointed out that of a total of twenty municipal markets, the Cabanyal ranks third in size and importance, with 12.34% of the total market traders in the City.

Outdoor markets, legacy of the ancient trading traditions in the city’s squares, are deeply rooted in our customs. The outdoor market in the Cabanyal is held once a week (on Thursdays) and is extremely popular, ranking 3rd among the 23 outdoor markets in the city, with 492 stalls.

Together, the maritime districts (of which the Cabanyal is one), rate 5th out of 19 in terms of the number of economic activities in Valencia – with a total of 3133; of these 10.5% are professional and artistic, 79.9% commercial and services, 0.5% construction and 9.1% industrial. In terms of commercial activities, this district ranks 4th in its number of businesses – 2504.

The Cabanyal, Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC)

Any declaration of Asset of Cultural Interest consists of two parts. The first part is the acknowledgement of the appreciation society has of an asset to which it attributes values worthy of interest and public enjoyment. For this reason it lays down the creation of measures which guarantees its conservation, enrichment and diffusion. This laying down of measures is the second aspect, a logical consequence of the first: PROTECTION.
The values to be protected which stand out in the declaration of B.I.C. are twofold:

  1. The peculiar grid structure derived from the alignment of the old barracas.
  2. The popular architecture with obvious eclectic roots.

The integration in this urban model of a specific population with its life-style and customs ends up defining the urban structures of the whole.

The architecture which developed in the Cabanyal-Canyamelar in the early twentieth century is known as popular modernism, described by professor Trinidad Simó as

…a peculiar popular modernism, made by and for the people which, although inspired by the designs of cities has its own style of free re-interpretation, based on traditional resources such as cladding with tiles.

Here, modernism vaguely echoes bourgeois iconography in order to create colourful designs which are separate from their origins, but above all it feeds off the principals of renovation, fantasy and applied arts and crafts. Its distant link to the bourgeoisie allows it a true creativity; naïve, vibrant, colourist, repetitive, but also singular, crafted, free of laws, ornate and direct.

The architecture of the Cabanyal is a spontaneous and late manifestation of a kind of professionalised architecture, full of original features and poetic ingenuity.

Generally, modernist influence has a direct effect in terms of raising the level of ornamentation, adornment of stucco and tiles come together in all possible manner of ways. Chequered facades stand in line next to buildings of great external simplicity, backgrounds of tiles saturated with colour contrast sharply with carefully built brick walls.