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How Seville escaped UNESCO’s “in danger” list

July 5, 2012 – 2:37 pm

A recent view of the Torre Pelli, under construction, in Seville. Its projected height - nearly 180 metres - is considered by many to overshadow the historic city.

The Torre Pelli, and Seville’s resulting endangered UNESCO World Heritage Status, is a topic I’ve written about often on this blog.

The highly controversial 178-metre tower, designed by Argentinian architect Cesar Pelli, is considered by some a marvel of cutting-edge design, and by others a monstrosity which has no place in a historic city like Sevilla. Costing 30 million euros, the 43-storey building will be the headquarters of Cajasol bank.

Last week, the Ayuntamiento must have breathed a monumental sigh of relief: the international body decided not to put the city on its “in danger” list, which could have been a first step towards Seville losing its WH status, because it is classified as a “remarkable monumental complex” (the Cathedral, Alcazar and Archivo de Indias), rather than a “landscape”. Neither did it demand for the tower’s construction to be halted, which was a surprise, as this was the recommendation in the report published by two inspectors who visited Seville on a fact-finding mission in November 2011.

View from the rooftop of the cathedral, part of the UNESCO World Heritage "monumental complex", towards the Torre Pelli.

However UNESCO did say that they would want “guarantees against any new development” which might have a detrimental effect on the site.

A spokesman for the Ayuntamiento de Sevilla is reported to have said that “there will be no more buildings of such great height in the area” and that they efforts would be made to “reduce the visual impact” of the skyscraper. The tower is around 75% complete, with more than 30 storeys now built.

The committee stated that the situation would be revisited in 2013 – by which time the tower could be finished, and it could be too late to reverse the adverse visual impact which the rascacielos has on the historic city centre.

  1. 2 Responses to “How Seville escaped UNESCO’s “in danger” list”

  2. What does “efforts would be made to reduce the visual impact of the skyscraper” actually mean? Are they going to paint the whole thing sky-blue or something? Hate those kinds of weasel words.

    By Seville Concierge on Jul 6, 2012

  3. I totally agree with you, it is wishy-washy in the extreme. But then I don’t believe pretty much any promise ever made by any local politician in Andalucia about anything! I think what’s more important is the bit about “guarantees against any new development…” etc. I have been looking everywhere for the original UNESCO committee report from when this was discussed in St Petersburg last week, to have the exact words that were said, but can only find media reports of the discussions. I would love to know word-for-word what UNESCO said. And exactly what kind of guarantee they expect from Zoido – “I hereby promise not to allow any more very tall buildings to be constructed in Seville”? In any case, I can’t see Zoido agreeing to anything (ie proposed new skyscrapers) that would deny the city much-needed jobs or give it a more modern image and higher international profile.

    By fiona on Jul 6, 2012

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