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Seville in danger of losing World Heritage status?

October 13, 2011 – 12:17 pm

Aerial view of the Torre Pelli. Photo Cesar Pelli

For some time, controversy has been raging in Seville over a 178-metre tower which is being built for Cajasol bank. The architect is Argentinian Cesar Pelli, so it’s known locally as the Torre Pelli. At one point, UNESCO said that Seville might risk losing its World Heritage Status because the tower will not blend harmoniously into the rest of the city. Many local people are appalled, and there is a strong popular movement against the building, including one group called “Plataforma Cuidadana Contra la Torre Cajasol ¡Tumbala!” (Citizens’ Platform Against the Torre Cajasol. Knock it Down!”

Now it’s been announced that in a few weeks’ time, representatives from ICOMOS (the International Council of Monuments and Sites, a French organisation) and UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre will visit the city to “determine if the skyscraper has a visual impact on the historic centre of Seville.”

Torre Pelli as seen from the river. Photo Cesar Pelli.

It would be hard for it not to have an impact, when it’s nearly twice as high as the Giralda, our most important landmark.

Seville's most famous building, and currently its tallest: the Giralda.

The new mayor, Juan Ignacio Zoido, recently said that “We don’t need that skyscraper” and “I’m not going to risk losing our World Heritage Status.”

The report which these two inspectors produce will be examined at the World Heritage Committee’s next session, in the summer of 2012.

In the meantime, the work continues and 10 storeys have already gone up. If it is stopped and pulled down, Cajasol would have to be paid compensation of around 200 million euros. Ouch.

  1. 2 Responses to “Seville in danger of losing World Heritage status?”

  2. Skyscrapers are mostly ugly, and in Spain they are out of place, since Spain has lots of land that is not arable and can be used to build more commonsensically.

    No skyscraper ever looks friendly. At best it manages to look impressive, and yet a bit idiotic, because of its expressionless faÇade (but why can’t I simply spell “fassade”), and this combination of power and idiocy reminds us all of the powers that be.

    However, I am much surprised that a thing like UNESCO comes up with such a clear view.

    By cantueso on Oct 17, 2011

  3. Thanks for your comment – I think you have a good point there, that the design of the Torre Pelli is irrelevant – the fact that it’s a skyscraper is the problem. I don’t think UNESCO does have a clear view, that’s why it is sending these inspectors to Seville to asses the impact the building will/would have on the city’s skyline.

    By fiona on Oct 17, 2011

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