Spanish cities are “buckling under bills for empty swimming pools, shuttered sports facilities and unpopular vacation complexes,” according to Miller-McCune. Their economies are “saddled with thousands of publicly funded construction projects made in the starrier moments of a mid-2000s property boom. While in the United States, the real estate crash has hit private homeowners hardest, in Spain it was the city governments that gorged themselves, committing to massive projects on the assumption that taxes, like home prices, would always rise.”
These public over-commitments include the long-empty and seemingly perpetually unfinished Castellon Airport, where “the only proof that [it] is an airport at all, or will be anytime soon, are dozens of bright blue road signs that claim so along the nearby highway.” But is this “15-year effort to build an airport without planes,” as the magazine describes it, “a case of epically bad public administration that helps us understand the crisis Europe is facing? Or was it a crime—a case of corruption—that puts Europe’s crisis in a far harsher light?”
Of course, these infrastructural examples should be seen alongside Peter Eisenman’s City of Culture of Galicia, which was “born in the Spain of excess and is opening during an economic collapse, as a sort of monument to [the] construction bubble.” Eisenman’s highly over-budget project is “a cemetery for money,” as one critic memorably describes it.