Herzog & de Meuron in Madrid

Financial Forms


The Madrid neighborhood Las Tablas now features a campus or ‘city’ of the banking conglomerate Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA). Its nickname, meaning ‘the sail,’ refers to the shape of the vertical construction that lords over the entire estate. Designed by the Swiss partnership Herzog & de Meuron, the complex consists of seven horizontally set buildings rising three floors and separated by narrow courtyards,which give the plinth of offices the appearance of a kasbah, and an upright volume 93 meters tall which, though iconic enough to give the premises a name, contains less than a tenth of the overall built space. Seen from many parts of the city of Madrid, this unusual structure of concrete, glazed and lined with a ring of stainless steel, competes in visibility with the four skyscrapers at the football club Real Madrid’s former Sports City. Its characteristic shape, which Jacques Herzog compares to a freehand drawing of a circle, is achieved through a combination of thirty-five radiuses of varying curvature. While the BBVA campus is the site of some 6,000 jobs, the tower with its useful width never exceeding 13 meters will only be used by some 300 people, including the banking group’s executive board. The architects’ efforts to situate the BBVA ‘city’ at the forefront of sustainability are commendable: the building presents a sculptural series of protective brise-soleils that will help to keep its thermal inertia stable, the materials used are environmentally low-impact, the facades are strongly insulated (double glazing, inert gas chamber, etc.), and the whole construction is equipped with a sophisticated system for reusing rainwater.

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