A pedestrian listens to music as he passes parked vehicles and a crane near new buildings in the 22@Barcelona urban development, an area of refurbished industrial land in the Poblenou district of Barcelona
Barcelona – Been There

Barcelona's Torre Agbar picks up where Sagrada Familia left off

Photo by Bloomberg

Barcelona – Been There Barcelona's Torre Agbar picks up where Sagrada Familia left off

Although most of Barcelona’s stories take place at street level, new symbols continue to mold the city’s skyline.

Sue Bryant
Sue Bryant Travel Writer

The curved glass tower of the W Hotel, dominating the waterfront by the cruise port, is shaped like a vast, billowing sail. Although designed by a local architect, Ricardo Bofill, it is reminiscent of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, the self-styled, seven-star hotel that epitomizes excess; like the W, a concept that seems strangely out of place in Barcelona, a city of working class roots.

A more fitting symbol is the Torre Agbar, towering over the [email protected] district in Sant Marti, an area north of the center hoping to reinvent itself as Europe’s answer to Silicon Valley. The pinecone-shaped skyscraper is supposed to resemble a geyser, a nod to Aguas de Barcelona, the municipal water company whose parent company owns the building.

Drenched in colored light after sunset, it is also inspired by the wind-smoothed rocks of the nearby mountains of Montserrat, embracing nature in an open nod to Gaudí and the organic forms of his Sagrada Família cathedral.

As I stand in Sant Marti, I gaze up at the shimmering glass. The tower “has many names, not all of them polite,” says my friend Marc, but I love it; its symbolic connection between the past and whatever the future may bring.

Take me to Sant Marti, Barcelona's Silicon Valley!

Spain, Catalonia, Barcelona, the Agbar Tower (Torre Agbar) by French architect Jean Nouvel, headquarters for the Barcelona

Torre Agbar is now an architectural icon of the city and its unique lighting scheme is used to celebrate important events. Photo by Kieran Meeke / Alamy

Kieran Meeke

Kieran Meeke

Agency
Alamy

Torre Agbar is now an architectural icon of the city and its unique lighting scheme is used to celebrate important events.

Other stories about Barcelona