In 1999, the French architect Jean Nouvel designed his Torre Agbar in Barcelona’s 22@ modern technological district in collaboration with the Spanish architectural firm b720. Six years later, the glass building was completed. Not only an icon of Barcelona’s modern skyline, but also an example of ecological renewal.
Modern icon in the shape of a dildo
The shape of the tower – which residents and tourists call a dildo or penis as a joke – was initially heavily criticised. Many residents thought it was a bad joke of the French architect to build the building in the shape of male genitalia.
According to Mr Nouvel, however, his company’s building, Torre Agbar, represents the power of a geyser that allows water from the blue Mediterranean sea to reach the sky. For the 142-metre-high tower, made up of 34 floors with 4,500 glass windows and fittings with 40 different colours of LED light, he was inspired by the work of Gaudí’s Sagrada Família and Mount Montserrat, which is some 60 kilometres from Barcelona.
The tower has been used since 2005 as the building of the Aïguas de Barcelona (Agbar) water treatment plant and was inaugurated by the Spanish royal family on 16 September of that year.
Distinction in ecological renewal
Success came quickly. In 2006, the tower won the Highrise Award for skyscrapers, awarded annually in Frankfurt. Two years later, Nouvel won the most prestigious prize in the world of architecture, the Pritzker Prize, for its skyscraper in the Catalan capital.
In 2011, the modern water tower was declared the greenest building in Europe by the European Commission for its efficient energy consumption and reduced CO2 emissions compared to buildings of the same size. And now the building has also become a major tourist attraction. The employees themselves are fortunate to have a truly magnificent view of the city.
With the arrival of the Torre Agbar, the silhouette of Barcelona has changed forever. What was once Barcelona’s old industrial district is now part of Barcelona’s trendy technological centre, which is still under development. The tower is well worth a visit. You can go there every day free of charge for a water exhibition. You can also enjoy the illuminated tower several times a year.
How to get to Torre Agbar
Avinguda Diagonal 211
Metro : L1 Gloriès
The tower cannot be visited