Modern Architecture in Spain
Maybe Spain has never been known for its modern architecture, but this situation has changed radically over the past twenty years. Cities like Valencia and Bilbao have placed themselves at the forefront of modern arquitecture in Europe thanks to innovative projects that dazzle the visitor.
1. City of Arts and Sciences (Valencia)
This huge cultural and entertainment complex, devised by the wonderful Spanish arquitect Santiago Calatrava and inspired by Futuroscope Park in Potiers (France), has become a real tourist attraction in Valencia. The City of Arts and Sciences is composed of seven impressive buildings spread over more than 350,000 sq. m.
From the architectural point of view , the most emblematic buildings are the Palace of Arts Reina Sofia (Valencia Opera House), the Science Museum Principe Felipe (wonderful Museum dedicated to technology and science) and L´Hemisferic (IMAX Theater).
2. Four Towers Business Area (Madrid)
In the last twenty years Madrid has gained progressively economic importance to the point that the city has become one of the largest business centers in Europe. The best example of this development is the construction of this modern business complex, which was inaugurated in 2009.
Cuatro Torres Business Area is comprised of four wonderful skyscrapers that have dramatically changed the skyline of Madrid:
Architect: Cesar Pelli / 249 meters.
Architects: Carlos Rubio Carvajal and Enrique Alvarez-Sala Walter / 236 meters
Architect: Henry N. Cobb / 230 meters
Torre Caja Madrid
Architect: Norman Foster / 250 meters.
This great building is the third highest in the European Union, only surpassed by the Shard London Bridge (London) and Messeturm (Frankfurt).
3. Torre Agbar (Barcelona)
This wonderful intelligent building was inaugurated in 2005 by the King of Spain as a symbol of the twenty-first century. When the sun goes down in Barcelona, Agbar Tower illuminates the city with more than 4,500 luminous devices that can operate independently using LED technology and enable the generation of images on the outside of the tower. Agbar Tower (145 meters) was built using cement, steel and glass by French architect Jean Nouvel, who studied architecture and design at the School of Fine Arts in Paris.
4. Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao)
The construction of Guggenheim Museum marked a turning point in modern architecture in Spain. This Museum, built over an old pier at the Port of Bilbao, allowed the city to enter the twenty-first century and attracted international attention. Its architect, Frank O. Gehry, created a universe of straight lines, curves, titanium plates and stone absolutely spectacular. The construction of the building was so extremely complicated that Frank O. Gehry needed to make use of sophisticated software which is commonly used in the aerospace industry.
5. Gran Hotel Bali (Benidorm)
This building (inaugurated in 2002) is home to the Europe’s tallest hotel, the wonderful Gran Hotel Bali (186 meters). In addition, the building is considered as one of the most modern hotels in the world: practically the whole building is controlled by an innovative automated computer systems designed to improve the customer experience. As one can imagine, the views of the Mediterranean Sea from the hotel rooms are really incredible.
6. Caixa Forum Madrid
In 2008 the old Mediodia Power Station was restored by Caixa Foundation to house an interesting multidisciplinary museum. The prestigious architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron maximized the space, creating multiple showrooms where fantastic temporary exhibitions take place.
At the Museum entrance, visitors can admire the first vertical garden in Spain which is composed of 15000 plants and more than 250 different species.
7. Bilbao Undergound
The Bilbao underground, inaugurated in 1995, serves Bilbao and its metropolitan area, popularly known as the “Greater Bilbao” (one million inhabitants). The metro system in Bilbao, the fourth largest in Spain, has more than 43km of track and 40 stations.
From the architectural point of view, the underground stations, designed by Norman Foster, are jewels of modern art and have become an icon of the city.
8. Marques de Riscal Winery Building
Marques de Riscal Winery, one of the oldest in La Rioja, has been the real promoter of this wonderful project. The complex was designed by Frank O. Gehry and his team of architects, who designed the iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao several years before.
The ambitious project aims to convert this building into the City of Wine which includes a Wine Research Center, Oenology Courses, Wine Therapy Treatments, Wine Museum and a fantastic Hotel.
9. Madrid-Barajas Airport (Terminal 4)
The opening of Terminal 4 in 2006 was a giant step for the development of Madrid as major tourist and business destination.
The figures of the new Terminal are really amazing: 760.000 sq. m, capacity of 50 million passengers a year, two huge buildings separated by 5 km and connected through a underground train without driver, one metro line, commuter trains and more than 90 kilometers of conveyor belts. The architect of the Terminal 4 (Richard Rogers), who won the prestigious Stirling Prize thanks to this project, said he was inspired by the wonderful Mosque of Cordoba to design this modern building.
10. Hotel W Barcelona
This avant-garde building, designed by Ricardo Bofill, housed a luxurious hotel managed by Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The Hotel has 473 rooms, restaurants, bars, fitness center and spa and is designed with every comfort one can imagine. The whole project was budgeted at 280 million euros.
The architect was inspired by the sailboats to design this amazing building which is a reminder of the nautical history of the city.