Sign of an optimistic and gradually modern Madrid that spread towards the airport in search of connections with the exterior, the Jorba laboratories came out of the architect’s studio boards when he already enjoyed unanimous recognition. Though the elongated and low volume of the warehouses bears the more extense part of the program beneath a roof of double cavity bone-beams, it is the office tower – that the client wanted to turn into an advertising sign – which is engraved on the visual memory of Madrid’s citizens, with each of its five square floors rotated 45º with respect to the previous one and connected by hyperbolic paraboloids.
“The client wanted a building with the power to attract attention and I made an advertisement tower, that people ended up calling ‘The Pagoda’ because it had that combination of curves and angles on the facade and spikes on the roof. Wood moulds were made, because since the parapets were formed by fragments of hyperbolic paraboloids, they were ruled surfaces that could be easily shuttered by assembling and gradually rotating the wood strips. To make a good wooden formwork it is necessary to use rough planks, almost like the ones you get directly from the sawmill; if the formwork is soaked in water, instead of the wood absorbing the water from the concrete, it is the concrete that takes the humidity from the wood and, when the formwork is removed, the planks are clean and the concrete keeps its streaks. But it was a procedure that I liked less and less, because the concrete ended up showing the texture of wood, which has nothing to do with its intrinsic logic and structure.
Though at that time Fisac wasn’t too happy with the interest aroused by the unusual shapes of what he considered the most frivolous part of the project, the demolition in 1999 of this icon of ‘developmentalism’ – which occurred when the premises were sold by their owners to a developer who wanted to raise an office building –, caused a polemic that went beyond the strictly professional field. “The Jorba laboratories were pulled down because they disliked that it was the first thing one saw on entering Madrid from Barajas airport but no one, not even the mayor [José María Álvarez del Manzano] expected such a reaction.” The support from the most diverse sectors and the debate arisen in the media – with over 200 articles on the subject – brought the architect’s figure back to light, awakening in the younger generations a renewed interest in his work.”... [+]