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Agbar Tower

Ateliers Jean Nouvel | B720 Arquitectos

Agbar Tower
By Gisella Barbieri -

Located on Plaza de las Glories Catalanes, the 142 m, 35-storey Agbar tower is a “small skyscraper” that fits perfectly into the acute angle formed by Avenida Diagonal  and Carrer Badajoz.
Its shape emulates a fountain at constant, stable pressure – a very suitable image for the headquarters of a water utility. To reinforce this imagery, the building does not stand on the ground floor but springs from a sheet of water at the bottom of a crater-like dip.
Four basement floors fill the whole plot, housing support functions and parking areas. The auditorium in the first basement rises from the ground to blend with the undulated landscaped space around the tower.
The building’s interior core and exterior perimeter are both load-bearing, a design that frees the intervening space of structural columns. Two concrete oval cylinders support a system of metallic beams which in turn supports composite metal/concrete decks.
The floor plan is determined by the building’s eccentric core. A compact area around the lift lobbies gradually broadens out to become unencumbered space for offices and other functions.
The outer wall is composed of an irregular mesh of square modules, giving the impression of a “pixelated” surface. Windows irregularly punctuate the exterior surface, based on calculations of the surfaces’ exposure to direct sunlight. This, together with the point-support grid and flexible office space configuration, give the building its very distinctive appearance. As if by osmosis the external mesh array is repeated internally. The fractal geometry of the outer wall, developed by designers together with Tecno, employs industrial processes that were also used to produce the component elements that fit neatly into the horizontal and vertical curves of the building – a sort of spatial imprinting.
The corrugated aluminium plate cladding - backed by a rockwool layer lying against the outer wall - follows this mesh structure. The outer skin is...

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