A BLACK cloud is towering over the controversial construction of Andalucia’s first-ever skyscraper.
Sevilla’s Torre Pelli – just yards from the city’s celebrated historical centre – has been the subject of heated debate since its construction began earlier this year.
And now after UNESCO dramatically stepped in to oppose it, the city has agreed to hold a referendum on its construction by the city’s architects.
In the landmark decision, the 2,900 members of Sevilla’s College of Architects (COAS) will vote this September on whether or not to allow its construction.
UNESCO meanwhile has ordered builders to down tools over the construction, until a full committee meeting can discuss it next year in Brazil.
UNESCO’s architecture arm ICOMOS believes that the 20-storey skyscraper – which will be 178 metres tall – will detract from the city’s World Heritage Site status.
It argues that the skyscraper – which sits right opposite the historic quarter between the Carthusian Monastery and the Triana district – will have an ‘irreversible profound impact’ on Sevilla’s key sites.
“The protection of items on the World Heritage List is not compatible with the construction of the Torre Pelli,” stated a report.
It adds that if it is allowed it will set a ‘dangerous precedent’ to build similar buildings near other key historic sites in Spain.
In further bad news for the city, UNESCO has threatened to include Sevilla’s key buildings, including the cathedral and Alcazar, on the ‘Endangered World Heritage List’.
And if construction continues against UNESCO wishes, the city could be ejected as a World Heritage Site, a fate which just occurred in the Elbe valley, near Dresden, Germany, after a controversial bridge was built.
“We want all preliminary work to be halted until the votes are counted and the region has completed a comprehensive evaluation of its impact,” said a spokesman for UNESCO.
One local architect, Angel Diaz del Rio, insisted he would certainly be voting against the building.
He said: “A city is made up of many different elements; buildings, squares and parks – the idea that the city needs such a skyscraper is completely wrong.”
The tower was designed by Spanish architect Cesar Pelli to become the headquarters of bank Cajasol, alongside a 40,000 metre shopping and business complex.