14 October 2015 – El Mundo
Wanda cannot “dismantle” the façade of Edificio España and subsequently proceed with its “reconstruction”. The Local Historical Heritage Commission (‘Comisión Local de Patrimonio Histórico’ or CLPH) of the municipality of Madrid has ruled out the plans set out by the Chinese business group, alleging that the “technical impossibility” of carrying out the renovation work on the skyscraper whilst retaining its protected features “has not been attested”.
According to the conclusions linked to this public body, which comprises representatives from the Community and Town Hall of Madrid, the Asian company will now have to draft a new project that includes an alternative solution to its complete demolition. That solution will have to be adapted to the “applicable law” and ensure the “necessary level of safety” for the renovation.
In July, Wanda requested permission from the CLPH to go ahead with the “dismantling” of the façades of Edificio España, which is grade 3 listed, and subsequently rebuild them “using the same materials, in the same way and with the same dimensions as the originals”. To support the “exceptional nature” of this proposal, governed by article 126.96.36.199.c) of the Town Planning Regulations of the General Urban Development Plan, the company owned by Wang Jianlin provided “technical reports and studies prepared by independent professionals”, attesting that it was materially impossible to carry out the renovation work whilst retaining the exterior walls, given the risk that the structure will collapse.
Meanwhile, Madrid’s Town Hall commissioned two other reports on the subject, one from the former dean of the College of Architects of Madrid, Ricardo Aroca and the other from Hugo Corres, Professor of the Structural Concrete Teaching Unit at the University of Vaelancia. Both studies concluded that the comprehensive renovation of the property in Plaza de España to construct a hotel, shopping centre and luxury homes is “technically and economically viable” without the need to demolish its protected features.
After analysing this opposing information, the CLPH considers that Wanda’s request to remove the façades of the building is “not viable”, since alternative proposals exist for carrying out the building work. As such, the criteria applied in the end is that originally presented by the Department for Sustainable Urban Development, which insisted from the beginning that it would be “impossible” to dismantle a concrete building. (…).
The proposed solutions
The technical studies commissioned by the Town Hall of Madrid, to which this newspaper has had access, propose solutions for maintaining the protected features of the building, whilst proceeding with the building work.
One involves “respecting two parallel bays” (‘crujías’ or spaces between the supporting walls) of the outer wall overlooking Plaza de España and “one bay” on the side walls, “which will enable it to use the existing beams to ensure the most effective way” of keeping the structure upright.
The other proposal involves “bringing forward the construction of the future building in such as way that a part of its structure that does not interfere excessively with the demolition process can serve to ensure its stability against the force of the wind”. (…).
Original story: El Mundo (by Marta Belver)
Translation: Carmel Drake