In his blog Criticalista, Rafael Gomez-Moriana calls attention to a report in the Barcelona edition of El Pais on the failure of Enric Ruiz-Geli's oft-published Media-TIC Building to live up to expectations.
As you may recall, the structure was to save energy by way of a curtain of inflatable EFTE panels on its southwestern facade -- although the system only partially covered this facade, in a rather lame petal-like arrangement of segmented hexagonals, and left the more exposed, southeastern facade, composed of ten floors of floor-to-ceiling glass, completely unprotected.
The article reveals that the inflatable EFTE system stopped working only days after the building's inauguration, and high energy costs made it the city's most expensive property to maintain. The center is now closed for lack of renters or buyers.
Of equally dubious utility is the elaborate structural system, with floors suspended on cables from an ungainly double-floor steel truss that runs across the top of the structure, supposedly to offer maximum flexibility for the floors. Hello Pompidou, hello Mies, hello McGuffin.
If authorities permit this kind of extravagance in the name of experiment and research, shouldn't there be some rigor on the part of the practicing architect? And some accountability? Most of these projects don't even work that well as publicity stunts. I mean, everyone out there in New York, Tokyo and Belgrade, do you still remember this one?
"...it makes me wonder if the energy efficiency certification it so proudly received upon completion is still valid, or how it could ever even have received such certification in the first place. It also makes me think that architectural "sustainability" that depends entirely on active, highly technological mechanical systems may not make the most sense in the end."
"What is most disappointing, however, is that this experiment was created as an incentive for start-ups in the information and communication technology field. It was done with the vision that, in the long term, it would transform Barcelona into a Mediterranean technology hub."
"Oh well, so much for that idea."Here's the relevant paragraph from El País:
"Quizá el caso más destacado sea el del edificio mediaTIC, un ejemplo de arquitectura verde que iba a inaugurar una nueva era de edificación sostenible. Construido con una cobertura plástica inflable reguladora de la luz y la temperatura, iba a reducir significativamente las emisiones de CO2 y la factura energética. Sin embargo, pronto se convirtió en el edificio más caro de mantener de todo el parque existente, debido al colapso del sistema inflable días después de su inauguración. Finalmente tuvo que cerrarse por la falta de inversores interesados en comprar un edificio con unos gastos de climatización desorbitados. Pero ahí sigue, cual fantasma del futuro-pasado."Update January 9, 2014
Rafael Gomez-Moriana writes:
"I have issued an erratum in the comments section of my post after a reader made me aware that the El País article is misleading. Turns out that the building is not altogether "abandoned": the Cloud 9 architecture firm (!) and a Cybernarium occupy the ground and first floors of the building. The rest of the building still appears to be empty, however."
Media-Tic, Another Sad Spectacle
Criticalista, December 7, 2013
Gemma Galdon Clavell
Smart City 2023
El País Cataluña, December 7, 2013
Photos: Luis Ros
Courtesy of Enric Ruiz-Geli