Zaha Hadid Architects' Edifici Torre Espiral

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How far can a single building extend its reach to elevate, both aesthetically and economically, a surrounding neighborhood? Zaha Hadid Architects' Edifici Torre Espiral, or "spiraling tower," designed in partnership with Patrik Schumacher, seeks to become a catalyst for the development of the 22@Barcelona district. This waterfront area, which covers 115 city blocks, has been actively transforming itself from a derelict industrial zone into a commercial hub since 2000, when the city government launched its redevelopment.

Zaha Hadid Architects' Edifici Torre Espiral Image courtesty of Zaha Hadid Architects

Although 22@Barcelona’s growth has been recent (over 1,500 firms have established themselves in the district since 2000, and its residential population has grown by 23%), the region is marked by various divisions. Businesses occupy the area in five knowledge-based clusters: Media, Energy, Design, Biomedical, and Information and Computer Technology (ICT). Commercial activities overlap with academic and government ones as part of the “triple helix” innovation system implemented by the district. Adjacent to this neighborhood, too, is Barcelona’s border with the municipality of Sant Adrià del Besòs.

In response, the Edifici Torre Espiral is adamantly multidirectional. In concept as well as in name, the building is a spiral. Video renderings by the architect represent it as a thread: shooting in from outside the frame, the thread winds itself loosely into the semblance of a structure. The diagram’s slackened skein becomes, in its built form, offset stacks of cantilevered balconies. Diagrammatic void spaces resolve architecturally into ribbon windows.

Edifici Torre Espiral Rendering Edifici Torre Espiral Rendering by Zaha HadidEdifici Torre Espiral Rendering by Zaha Hadid

The Edifici Torre Espiral has two clients, business consortium Zona Franca de Barcelona and b_TEC/Inter-University Consortium Campus Besòs. Its program is reflective of the interdisciplinary nature of 22@Barcelona, and includes office, university, auditorium, and retail space. As they have done with other projects, the architects use landscaping to moderate the site’s topography and draw the region together into a more coherent whole. The building’s upswept lines lift it above street level, freeing up ground space for civic use. Courtyards and an atrium are designed to promote interaction among the district’s user groups.

The building is currently under construction.

Edifici Torre Espiral Rendering by Zaha Hadid

Kristin Dispenza

Kristin graduated from The Ohio State University in 1988 with a B.S. in architecture and a minor in English literature. Afterward, she moved to Seattle, Washington, and began to work as a freelance design journalist, having regular assignments with Seattle’s Daily Journal of Commerce.

After returning to Ohio in 1995, her freelance activities expanded to include writing for trade publications and websites, as well as other forms of electronic media. In 2011, Kristin became the managing editor for

Kristin has been a features writer for since January 2010. Some of her articles include:

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