‘Previsión Española’ Building, Seville
Rafael Moneo 

‘Previsión Española’ Building, Seville

Rafael Moneo 


This new branch of the insurance company Previsión Española sought to blend into the architectural tradition of Seville, but without making a fuss. The idea was to respect the surrounding city, integrating the building into its scheme and adjusting it to the city through the right choice of scale.

The formal structure of this building does not deviate much from that of the bulk of the city’s public buildings, many of which follow a horizontal tripartite scheme consisting of a plynth, a piano nobile and an upper floor.

Such a scheme facilitated the creation of a continuous building linked to the geometry of the city.

In structures of this kind, the main entrance frequently assumes a vital role. Here is a case in point. The facade seems to be based on the concept of a wall running around and protecting the premises, a clear allusion to the city’s ramparts. Moreover, the geometry of the comer apparently alludes to the dodecagon of the Torre del Oro nearby.

The delicate weave produced by the alternation of rows on a strict vertical plane, and on another, set back, stretches across the building’s three horizontal strata.

The first stratum - corresponding to the lower floor - consists of a granite base, a line of square pillars that are set at an angle so as to hold up a continuous cast iron railing at their vertices, and a series of horizontal bands, reaching up to 5,40 meters, in which a number of small openings are placed.

The cast iron reliefs are a notable, enriching complement to the railing, and, as mirrors of a bygone urban landscape, remind us of what the place was like in the past.

The second level, corresponding to the main floor, is organized as a succession of openings with alternating marble columns and half­columns of carved wood.

The gaps are protected by folding shutters, and the balcony by an iron railing similar to the one downstairs. A white comice in bush-hammered concrete provides further protection and stresses the horizontality of the openings.

The third and top level is situated behind the cornice and formed by a continuous parapet in white marble. Resting on the parapet is a continuous line of small columns, a continuation of the acade’s system of vertical supports meant to sustain another impressive cornice. This second cornice boldly projects outward in the form of a horizontal plane to finish off the building and engage in dialogue with the lower cornice.

A scrutiny of the floor plans shows that a sensitivity to the geometric changes suggested by a strict respect for alignments might be the most revealing formal characteristic of the scheme.

The entry over the ‘prow-altarpiece’ becomes the generatrix of the interior spaces. From here one gets to understand the slant of the corridors, these being responsible for the organization of the office spaces.

On the ground floor, singular episodes such as the wall, passageways, corridors and porticos take on a starring role and end up getting integrated into the complex geometry made neces­sary by such respect for linkages.

The mezzanine floor connects the two bodies of the building and helps resolve the voids pro­duced over the parking ramp.

The cores of vertical communication become the true protagonists of the main floor, where one can also discern the effort made to distinguish the various functions specified by the program.

Lastly, the idea behind the choice and treatment of materials was to reject mimickry and seek synonymy with the local tradition.

Pressed and carved brick is juxtaposed with Macael marble, cast iron railings and lattice-work with folding shutters, and a traditional tiled roof with a concrete structure.

All this to give life to a building that wants to avoid the excesses of populistic picturesqueness as much as those of avant-garde radicalism...[+]


Cliente Client

Previsión Española de Seguros ‘Previsión Española' Insurance Company

Colaboradores Collaborators

Pedro Feduchi, Luis Moreno Mansilla, proyecto project Gonzalo Díaz-Recasens, Antonio Cueto, Francisco González Peiró (aparejador technical architect), dirección de obra site supervision.

Consultores Consultants

Mariano Moneo (ingeniería engineering); O.T.D. (asesores técnicos technical consulting).

Maquetistas Modelmakers

Juan de Dios Hernández, y Jesús Rey.

Contratista Contractor

Ocisa.

Fotos Photographers

Dida Biggi e Hisao Suzuki.