A giant emerges from the Sevillian plains


Three architects compete to construct the tower which will house the new Cajasol central offices in Seville

An unwritten law states that no building in Seville may be taller than the Giralda (97m). Not anymore. The architectural projects compete to construct a tower that shall be far taller than the ancient Almohad minaret. The skyscraper shall house the Cajasol central offices, which is the result of the merger between the two Savings Banks from Seville: El Monte and San Fernando. The projects which are still in the running are those from, the Madrilenian Alejandro Zaera, the Argentinean César Pelli and the Peruvian Bernardo Fort-Brescia and shall be under examination today. Pelli’s project, which is considered to be the most discreet, is 178m in height; Zaera’s is 187m in height and plays with the deep-rooted cultural link with Seville, as it looks like a Flamenco dress. Fort-Brescia’s tower is an enormous ‘L’ measuring 216m in height.

The three finalist architects in the competition called by Puerto Triana, which is the owning company of the three savings Banks, coincide in that their towers have been design specifically for Seville. The watchtower, which will become one of the tallest structures in Spain, shall be located in the west exit of the city, within the technological park on Cartuja Isle. “Our challenge is to design a tower in the city of the Giralda. The solution is to construct a building which is not excessively tall”, explained the Argentinean César Pelli, from the Pelli Clarke Studio in the USA. The tower projected by this architect is the shortest of those proposed.

Precisely, the competition with the tallest and most emblematic tower in the Andalucía Capital has been a much debated issue since the Project came to light, and has been looked at with a magnifying glass by the Seville Town Hall, governed by the socialist Alfredo Sánchez Monteseirín. "The Giralda is far too alone. She needs someone to take her out for a dance”, assured the Madrilenian Alejandro Zaera comically.

"The PGOU established the possibility to mark the current entrances to the city with milestones in height, that is to say, with buildings with a powerful image and which symbolize the economic and urban strength of Seville”, stated the Mayor. The Puerto Triana Project foresees the construction on a surface area of 68,000m2, of which a maximum 48,000m2 will be dedicated to commercial usage. The maximum height contemplated in the general plan is 110m.

Selection committee

The committee which shall choose the winner, formed by 15 people, has been listening, as from yesterday until today, to the architect’s proposals who have two hours to explain their ideas. The Argentinean, César Pelli was the first to speak yesterday evening. Today, Zaera and Fort-Brescia shall have their turns. The savings banks plan to publish the results before year end. “The three projects have very attractive elements. Pelli’s follows a classical line. Fort-Brescia’s is stylized and the most innovative, standing out due to its slenderness. Zaera’s is the most studied, both technologically as technically”, opined the Mayor. On the run up to the final, projects by the Japanese Isozaki and the French Valode and Pistre were left aside.

The budget the architectural studios have to play with rises to around €140 million. “It’s a slightly tight price but viable”, stated Alejandro Zaera. His proposal adjusts to the deep-rooted Andalucian culture. The tower he has designed insinuates a frilly dress and employs traditional artesian materials from Seville. “The building will be covered in green and white ceramic glass, as if it were a pattern for an Andalucian mosaic”, explained Zarea, who indicated the silhouette as the distinctive element of his project.

The remaining competitors have kept away from the great glass walls which are so typical in skyscrapers. The rejection to heat and worry about the environment have been the main reasons for this approach. “Our building has only one glassed side, which looks north. This way, the Sun enters without creating an excessive energy load upon the building”, described the Peruvian Fort-Brescia. The Project from his Architectural Studio consists of an enormous ‘L’ which begins from the surface, “as part of the surroundings”, as he he describes.
Pelli plans to construct a “slim and narrow” tower with an elliptical base, whose roof shall be photovoltaic and whose glass walls shall be protected by recycled-wood latticework. “It’s a simple tower but it is not static. It is like a dance”, explains the architect, that the base of the building has been projected with a ‘Sevillian’ Street, “with Orange and Jacaranda trees” where the businesses shall be. Pelli also proposes the construction of a garden above the shop buildings.

Seville shall also have four other important architectural firms working on another Project: Norman Foster, Arata Isozaki, Jean Nouvel and Guillermo Vázquez Consuegra shall develop the space which today is occupied by the Cruzcampo Beer Factory in the Nervión district.

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