This is... Barcelona - Jean Nouvel’s Agbar Tower

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Barcelona – Spain’s second city and home to some of Europe’s finest architecture – is perhaps most famous for Antoni Gaudí’s magnificent creations, such as the still incomplete Cathedral Sagrada Familia and the phantasmagorical Parc Güell. While these creations undoubtedly represent some of Europe’s most celebrated landmarks, it would be a mistake to imagine that this picturesque city’s horizons do not extend beyond Catalan Modernism.

torreagbar5Barcelona – Spain’s second city and home to some of Europe’s finest architecture – is perhaps most famous for Antoni Gaudí’s magnificent creations, such as the still incomplete Cathedral Sagrada Familia and the phantasmagorical Parc Güell. While these creations undoubtedly represent some of Europe’s most celebrated landmarks, it would be a mistake to imagine that this picturesque city’s horizons do not extend beyond Catalan Modernism.

Situated on Carrer de Badajoz, just before it encounters Avinguda Diagonal and marking the gareway to the city’s technological district, Torre Agbar is one of Barcelona’s more recent iconic structures. Designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel, in conjunction with Spanish company, B720 Arquiectos and constructed by Grupo ACS, Torre Agbar was officially unveiled in June 2005 by King Juan Carlos and cost 130 million euros.

Currently inhabited by its owners, multinational group Agbar, who bought the building from investment firm, Azurelau, in 2010, Torre Agbar is said to have been inspired by Montserrat, a mountain range near Barcelona. It is certainly true that the pink sediment that is such a feature of this area can be seen in the building’s variegated glass exterior.

Torre Agbar’s somewhat phallic appearance has led to inevitable comparisons with London’s Norman Foster designed Gherkin, yet despite this superficial similarity it has a distinct character. Temperature sensors planted in the exterior of the tower cause window blinds to open and close, thereby regulating temperature, while by night thousands of LED lights permit the creation of shapes and images, constantly changing its appearance.

Perhaps it lacks the historical gravitas of Gaudí’s most recognisable structures, but Barcelona’s Torre Agbar is fast becoming one of the city’s key contemporary buildings.