Iconic Madrid Building Ready for Makeover

Edificio Espana Madrid
Redesign work is set to begin on the interior of Edificio España, the iconic Madrid building, which has been empty since 2005.

Banco Santandar controls the building, the centerpiece of the Plaza de España in Madrid, and has already commissioned a redesign by Norman Foster and Carlos Lamela. Plans call for creation of a shopping center, a hotel and about 300 luxury apartments.

Chinese businessman Wang Jianlin, the head of property developer Dalian Wanda, who is often called the richest man in China, has already agreed to pay €260 million for the completed project.

But the redevelopment has been delayed by its status as an “asset of cultural interest,” El Pais reports. The building has been listed as a grade two historic landmark, but the banks wants it downgraded to grade three, which would allow the redesign to tear down part of the rear of the building, while keeping the façade.

“This would help increase the value of a building that has been seriously degraded in recent years due to lack of use, while preserving the parts that give the building its importance and characterize it from an architectural and artistic perspective,” according to a Heritage Commission document reviewed by El Pais.

Edificio Espana in the 1950s (Courtesy: Wikicommons)

Edificio Espana in the 1950s (Courtesy: Wikicommons)

But Madrid’s Heritage Commission is concerned the building will fall into disrepair and is supporting the start of the redevelopment, the paper reports. Final approvals are still needed from the regional government and the Heritage Commission, but efforts are moving forward to gather input from architects and allow construction.

Banco Santander purchased Edificio de España in 2005 for €389 million, but plans to redevelop the interior stalled.

At 117-meters, the 62-year-old building was the tallest building in Spain for many years. The current tallest building in Spain is the 249-meter Torre de Cristal in Madrid, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. In contrast, the tallest building in the world is the 828-meter Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

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