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Porta Fira Towers. Buildings for hotel and offices in Plaza Europa

Toyo Ito (ITO AA) y Fermín Vázquez (b720 Arquitectos)

Description Technical file

The work of the architect Toyo Ito and the b720 Arquitectos practice headed by Fermín Vázquez, this architectural complex has the objective of giving a response to its urban surroundings, turning into the formalisation of the access portal to the cities of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat and Barcelona from the international airport of El Prat.

The project is composed of two differentiated towers that maintain a subtle dialogue. Even though both buildings present a clear contrast with regard to shape, as a whole they achieve a harmonious and complementary relationship. The buildings – 110 metres in height each – have a powerful symbolic charge, as they emulate the historic Venetian towers that lead into the trade fair site in Barcelona’s Plaza España.

The hotel tower (GF+25) has been designed in an organic shape and its perception changes as one goes around it. Given the constructional difficulty posed by the building’s geometry, the façade has been divided into two skins. The interior one is a watertight enclosure based on a lightweight curtain wall solution with aluminium and glass panels, devised to ensure it meets all acoustic, thermal and watertightness demands. The external façade, in contrast, is a second skin that gives a variable texture and geometry to the tower. The skin is composed of independent aluminium tubes held together by their ends with joints that permit the desired torsion. The connection between joints, aluminium tubes and the structure that supports them makes it possible for the skin to adapt in a continuous and patterned manner over the entire façade surface, expressing rotation, transfer and growth as it climbs in height. In this way the tower is divided into three parts: the geometry of the two first parts only rotates and translates in a variable manner, while in the third one the floor plan is deformed and scaled to increase the surface and perimeter of the tower.

The office building (GF+22) with its orthogonal geometry and standing perpendicular to the backbone axis of Plaza Europa (at 30º with regard to the Gran Vía) becomes a finial for the square and establishes a dialogue with the limit situated symmetrically on the other side of the Gran Vía (two orthogonal towers perpendicular to this axis). This is made even more patent by the fact that the nucleus of the offices is cut at the meeting point with the façade by an invisible vertical plane that coincides with the main axis of the Plaza Europa project.

The perception of torsion and transfer generated by the hotel is complemented and finds its response in the office tower. At a glance, this is a pure volume clad in a glass curtain wall slightly recessed from the forging but whose vertical red-coloured nucleus situated in the lateral and also featuring an organic shape becomes the reflection of the hotel tower. Between both towers, and connecting them, is a communal atrium. Its singular appearance, together with the 110 metres in height and the 80.108 metres square of total built surface space, transforms this project into one of the landmarks of the new Plaza Europa in the city of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat and into a clear presence on Barcelona’s skyline at the access to the airport.

The project has three clearly differentiated main uses: hotel use, office use and commercial use. The hotel programme, with 344 rooms, is distributed over 28 floors, while the office programme, distributed over GF+22 and 2 technical floors, features open-plan floors with a large structural span. The commercial programme is accommodated within the office plot on the ground floor, consolidating the façade that delimits the park and thus closing off the commercial ring of Plaza Europa.

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Localización: Plaza Europa 45-47 (Hotel), 41-43 (Oficinas). L’Hopitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona. Autores:Toyo Ito (Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects) y Fermín Vázquez • b720 Arquitectos. Promotor: Torres Porta Fira (formada por FCC Construcción, Layetana Inmobiliaria, Metrópolis) + Promociones Urbanas (hotel). Fotografía: Eugeni Pons.
Fermín Vázquez
Toyo Ito
L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona
Eugeni Pons
Lloret, Girona