AbstractThis paper will deal with the Agbar Tower which is a mega structure in Spain that stretches highabove the Barcelona skyline and lights up the night sky with illuminating LED’s that provide anartistic look to Barcelona. The Agbar tower began construction in 1999 and ended in 2005. Thispaper will discuss what the tower is made of, the inner design, the group and the architect whodesigned it, as well as other aspects of the tower that will be covered in the paragraphs to follow.
The Agbar Tower Agbar Tower (Torre Agbar in Catalan) is a high rise, high tech, tower in Spain thatopened in 2005 and is one of the premier architectural works in all of Spain, winning theInternational Highrise Award of 2006. The Agbar tower lies right outside of Barcelona and isone of the premier towers in the area, shooting up 38 stories of office space and standing alone asthe sole tower that mimics itself in appearance. The tower itself was inspired by the shape of ageyser, which explains the shape which seems to shoot out from the Barcelona skyline. Prolific,imposing, overpowering, and beautiful, the Agbar Tower is one of the most modern looking, andhigh tech buildings in all of Europe and is a dream in terms of the absolute modernity of it.Breaking ground in 1999, and finally being christened by the King of Spain in 2005, the Agbartower remains a wonder of Barcelona and a major credit to Jean Nouvel, its French creator whohas a history of awe inspiring, and high tech architectural works. The Agbar tower is one of themost inspiring high tech works in all of architecture, and serves as a model for high tech projectsin all modern times. The beautiful sellout that rises above the ground is a testament to theinnovation and uniqueness on the French creator. It is also considered an epic tome of modernengineering and is something that could not have been produced a couple of decades ago. The Agbar Tower broke ground for construction in 1999 on the outskirts of Barcelona,Spain, in Catalonia. It was not the first project that acclaimed architect Jean Nouvel had workedon, but it was a welcomed addition of his to the skyline of Barcelona which was looking to rampup the high tech feel that it was giving out. In a city with so much history and old structures, itwas a welcomed addition to the skyline. During its construction, it was often joked at as being of
a phallic nature in its design, as for the first phase of its construction and erection, it was of acylindrical, closed shape which jetted into the sky high above the heads of the citizenry. TheDragados company was commissioned to complete the Agbar tower, and the process of itsconstruction went on for a six year period after ground was initially broken in 1999. Theconstruction of the building was a lengthy one and the tower underwent change in its designduring the process of being constructed. Originally intended to be 142 meters, the tower, in itsfinal completion, rose 144 meters above the ground due to a small change in the decision of itsfinal height upon construction. The Agbar Tower was envisioned as one of the premier pieces ofartwork in architecture in all of Europe upon its conception, and was designed to live up to themoniker that it had envisioned for itself. Construction was a lengthy process due to the designand sheer ambition of the Agbar tower to begin with. The design of the tower was something thathad never been attempted before and therefore some extra effort was done to make sure that theunknown variables were caught before. While most buildings that workers who were employedto build the Agbar tower are used to building are made of materials such as concrete, wood,plaster, and other assorted materials, the Agbar tower was a completely new design in terms ofconstruction and a new approach had to be taken to it. It is completely logical to say that theAgbar tower was revolutionary in its design, as well as its construction. The phallic constructionoff the bird tower created design challenges for the architect and the construction team. A lot ofpeople and media were interested in this building and there was added pressure to make sure thatthe design off the tower was not only revolutionary but the same time appealing and functional. The Agbar tower began construction in 1999 and was not completed and open until 2006.This lengthy process was due to the sheer ambition of the building itself as well as the materialsand techniques that were employed and put into practice for the building which sought out to be
one of the most revolutionary in all of Europe, adding prestige to Barcelona which is already acity of high prestige and high design. The tower sought to combine the flamboyant nature ofmuch of Europe’s new skyscrapers designed by architects that are more artists than they arearchitects as well as a high tech feel about it that would be known the world over in architecturalcircles. The Agbar tower sought out to, and met the ambitious goal that it set for itself. Theconstruction of the Agbar tower was a lengthy one, and began in 1999. The group commissionedto build the Agbar tower was the Dragados company, which over the course of 6 years used themanpower of 1170 workers to complete the prestigious project in Barcelona. Usually buildingprestigious, high tech buildings like this includes modest heights and somewhat of a modestdesign in that manner as well. The designer wanted to take a different path and therefore thetower was created with different materials and the same time stands at 120 m. The Agbar towerdefied all odds of buildings that are made like this and jetted up 120 meters into the skyline ofBarcelona, illuminating the city and itself with colorful lights. This is one of the many reasonsthat construction of the Agbar tower took such a long time. Another reason that construction tooka long time was the incorporation of state of the art, innovative technology in the Agbar Towerwhich also made the construction take a while as well. As was mentioned previously, the Agbartower illuminates, at night, itself as well as the Barcelona skyline. This is done with theintegration of Light Emitting Diodes (hereafter referred to as LED’s) into the building structure,on the outside, that accomplish this marvelous feat and blend of art and architecture. This LEDdesign provided a high tech feel to the building as well as a feature that announced theprominence of such a building to not just Barcelona, but all of Spain and beyond that as well.The LED’s are a sort of way to announce to Europe that Spain now has a high tech high rise ofits own and it accomplished this in a most perfect manner that could be accomplished. (Pictured)
http://images.businessweek.com/ss/08/04/0417_jean/image/agbar.jpgAs was also previously mentioned, the height of the tower itself is another major feature of itwhich provides it with an imposing nature as well as an awe inspiring beauty that is announcedto all of Barcelona. The tower was actually designed that way in order to provide great views ofthe stunning and historical city of Barcelona as well as views of the Spain and Catalan countrythat lies beyond the direct, and peripheral, vicinity of the Agbar tower. When these two elementsof the Agbar tower are combined, the lights that light up the entire skyline and announce itspresence, as well as the height which provides an imposing and overpowering nature of the
tower, it is a small wonder why it is one of the most prominent buildings on the Iberianpeninsula, as well as all of Spain and Europe and beyond that. (Pictured)http://www.planetware.com/i/photo/barcelona-e1070.jpgWhat Nouvel set out to accomplish in creating such a structure was fully realized by not onlyhim but the workers who built the tower as well as the entire city of Barcelona which gainedsuch high prestige in the construction and implication of one of the most ambitious projects toever come to the Iberian peninsula in Nouvel’s Agbar tower. The Agbar tower is for the tworeasons above, but not limited to them, one of the most awe inspiring, and creative buildings inall of Europe and it remains to be seen what kind of structure can be brought to Spain that wouldever come close to knocking it off as the head of creative and beautiful, and not to mentionmajestic, as well, buildings in all of Europe and even the world. The Agbar tower is occupied in its own right by a water utility company, which set togive the building a design that would be unique and also serve and represent what the buildingwas to be about upon completion. For this reason, the Agbar tower was created with a sort of
water geyser design (according to Nouvel himself) which is mimicked by the phallic shape of theobject as being water rising from the ground through a geyser and exploding into the sky in amillion colors that are represented by the LED’s. The LED’s are not meant to be just that,however, and are also meant as an artistic touch to an artistic building, one that converts itsnature to that at night when it shows its colors using thousands of light emitting diodes. Theselights not only give the tower a unique beauty which is unrivaled across the Barcelona skylinebut it also allows for the conservation of energy. Green technology which at its heart is aboutbuilding efficient buildings and at the same time using less electricity is a growing movement inthe United States. However, in the construction off this tower the light emitting diodes were usedas a way to conserve energy at the same time create a white rinse and brilliance which wouldmake the tower stand out from the rest of the buildings.As can be seen from the image above, the Agbar tower is one of the more imposing structureswhen looked at from the point of view of an average bystander, and pedestrian on the ground. Ithas the kind of power that will make someone immediately look up and take a gaze at thisbreathtaking structure which jets out of the ground, just as it wants to, like a geyser of waterpenetrating the peaceful, blue, Catalan sky. The Agbar tower is constructed, in itself, mostly of the basic building material ofconcrete. It may seem strange that such a majestic and beautiful building is made of this, but it is.The concrete was made to last and be durable, and the building relies on it for its integralstructure build that is so crucial to the tower standing. Now, it is probably obvious to say that theAgbar tower itself is not made of exposed concrete; otherwise it would not have the look that ithas. The Agbar tower relies on a heavily artistic and majestic design, and this could not beaccomplished with what concrete in itself could accomplish in terms of providing this artistic and
high tech look. For this reason, different materials are employed on the outside of the Agbartower which gives it its majestic and awe inspiring look that differ from the structures innardsthat are quite boring in comparison but are crucial to the structural integrity of the Agbar toweritself. The outside of the Agbar Tower is not concrete; otherwise it would take quite the artist andthe builders to make it what it actually is and looks like. If it were pulled off using concrete, itwould probably require some sort of trick photography, or amazingly large decal cast on itsoutside to make it look the way that it actually does when viewed in person, or even in a pictureof the tower itself that may be stumbled upon by someone. The outside of the Agbar tower isconstructed using painted sheet metal strips, which in totality number to be 59,619 in number.(Vienne, p. 52) This large number of painted sheet metal strips is also interesting in that it comesin all different colors and sizes. This provides the building with the artsy nature that it set out tohave in the first place and really does a great job of actually making it a work of art more than itis an amazing feat and accomplishment of architecture. These painted sheet metal strips reflectthe sun during the day dazzling the eyes off all the people will behold it and at the same timecool off the building considerably. The sheer amount of sheet metal required for this project isanother interesting fact all in itself, but it should not take anyone by surprise as the Agbar toweris, in itself, a very large building. Not all of the pieces of sheet metal were the same size andshape, as can be probably inferred by something of this size and magnitude. The shapes of theAgbar tower sheet metal differ, as can be imagined. Some were painted, and straight sheet metalstrips, while others were curved and were meant to wrap around, or cover small areas. This hadto be done due to the shape of the tower, which is curved towards the top and circular at the top.(Johnson, p. 17) The shape came to Nouvel after he realized (according to an interview) that notall towers had to be the same and that the actual idea of a tower could be innovative in nature. He
wanted to reinvent the tower and he did a good job in pulling that feat off. The architect wantedto create an organic building versus the rigid and linear designs that are so common inskyscrapers across the world. To create this design required an enormous amount of innovationand the use of different materials and especially the sheet metal to allow it to curve as in the caseof organic materials in nature. The tower itself is not so much a feat of sheet metal, though, in itsconstruction, but is also one of concrete as well. The tower is held together by two cylinders ofconcrete that are separated from each other and sort of filled in to make the building go up andprovide content in it. It is the outer cylinder which provides the building with its majestic lookthat lights up the Barcelonian skyline and is really what makes the Agbar tower the Agbar tower. The Agbar tower is an expression in itself of Barcelonian culture, and Catalan expertisein its construction, design, and execution in how it was built. The structure is a testament to thetenacity, and determination of Nouvel, as well as of the workers in the construction and design ofthe project that ultimately became the world famous Agbar tower known throughout the globe.Piercing the veil of historical and traditional Spanish art, but providing enough beauty andmajesty to fit in, the Agbar tower added, in the construction of itself, a new facet of Spanish artand design that will surely be incorporated into future building projects that will come out ofSpain. Built with extensive manpower, extensive and copious amounts of steel, concrete, wiring,and other materials like glass, and with building materials that were used and employed to matchthe imposing size of the building, too. Cranes, cherry pickers, and extensive elaboratescaffolding was used to make the building go, and it was obviously a tough project to complete,so every one of these things had to be employed and coupled with the materials to make sure thatthe Agbar tower could be pulled off and built in the way that it was to look the way it currentlylooks to the average person. It is impossible not to notice it. If I can inject my own opinion into
this writing, I would say that that was another goal that Novel set out to achieve when he madethe Agbar tower, and he achieved that goal with flawless perfection, and the Agbar towerabsolutely lights up the air and generates excitement in the area that it is in and provides joy tothe Barcelonians who get to call it their own when they look up in the sky and see it. If the Agbar tower were constructed today, it could be pulled off, but maybe somethingso prominent and protrusive on the skyline, in a place like New York for example could bepulled off in another city besides Barcelona, which adds to the skyline there better than it wouldin a dense, congested city where it might not be as noticed. But, that is what makes the Agbartower so great in its design and execution and its erection. In a city like New York, where thereare a lot of skyscrapers and other buildings to compete with, the at the tower could never berealized. The reason being, that they would not be many people would be willing to invest in thebuilding that was so unique and different from the others. Because the Barcelonas felt that theyneeded to create something that was different and we talked about for many years to come is partof the reason why the architect was given so much freedom in creating something that was trulyunique and interesting. The tower stands as a testament to the risks that the investors and thegovernment took in giving the architect the freedom to create something that was truly amazingand different. The other problem with creating a tower of this size and magnitude is the sheercost of something like this and with a design like this it would not be feasible to producesomething in the current economic climate. The fact that it jets up like a blue and silver swordand pierces the night sky with its lights or the daytime with its sheer look is what makes it sogreat and inspiring to artists and architects all the world over. In a modest city like Barcelona, itis what was needed at the time to make it such an inspiring work of art. It is of the opinion of thewriter of this piece that it would not be so simple to put that together in a larger city, so a
reconstruction may not be so effective in another major city, but would have an effect in onewithout a major and prominent skyline, maybe such as Phoenix or Tucson in the state ofArizona. The technology certainly is there to make a building like this and to possibly make abuilding even more majestic and true to form than the Agbar tower is, but it may not have thesame effect and without that, it is not what the Agbar tower is to the people of Barcelona. If itwere theoretically recreated again, I think that it would mimic something about the city that itwas in. For example, if it was built in San Francisco, California, it might look something like asailboat like another famous structure has as its basis of design, or it might have some differentcolors in it. San Francisco has much more of a brick and Victorian feel to it, so it might mimicthose designs in its constructions. Secondly, I can imagine that it would also light up the nightsky and sort of announce itself to the entire city as being a structure worth looking at and worthbeing taken a picture with or a picture of it to send to friends back home. it would have to be adefining structure of a city and I think, and know that it could be pulled off somewhere in theUnited States with the correct amount of brain power, and will to make such a structure. TheAgbar tower could be created again, with a large labor force, but it would be a stretch since theoriginal Agbar tower stands on its own as a pioneer and leader of the architectural world and aninspiration to architects and artists from Iberia, to Europe, to the rest of the globe. It stands on itsown as one of the major accomplishments of our times in terms of architectural design. In conclusion, the Agbar tower stands alone as an inspirational artwork of Barcelona thatalso happens to double as a magnificent skyscraper that jets into the sky in a manner that letseveryone know where it is at. This beautiful piece of work provides majesty and prestige toBarcelona. The Agbar tower is a great piece from Nouvel and is interesting from its design to itsstructure to the inner workings of this magnificent piece. It can never be made again in the
manner it was and stands alone as the sole gem of the Barcelona skyline for the reason ofdetermination, design, and planning by Nouvel and everyone involved in the project of the Agbartower.
Works Cited Heller, Steven, and Véronique Vienne. 100 ideas that changed graphic design. London:Laurence King, 2012. Print. Johnson, Scott. Tall building: imagining the skyscraper. Los Angeles, Calif.: Balcony,2008. Print. "Torre Agbar - Torre Agbar information and pictures." Go There Guide - Travel Guide.N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://www.gothereguide.com/torre+agbar+barcelona-place/>. Copyright by http://www.acemyhomework.com/