BCA: How one Architecture Studio Became a Leading Player in Barcelona’s 22@ District

7 May 2018 – Eje Prime

Albert Blanch and Merche Conca founded BCA in 1994 without a portfolio of clients and working from the living room at home. 25 years later, the architecture studio is a leading player in Barcelona, where it has carried out projects with Socimis and funds such as Colonial, Lar and Blackstone, and has generated an assembly line in which thirty of its own professionals work on 45 projects each year. That number is the average that Blanch likes working with – “fifteen projects coming in, fifteen underway and fifteen being completed”, says the architect – who, from his office in the Sant Gervasi-Galvany neighbourhood, confirms to Eje Prime that, “when projects don’t come to your door, you have to go and look for them”. It was this approach that enabled BCA to overcome the crisis without leaving Barcelona and to grow its turnover by 200% over the last few years.

Proof of this is its presence in the 22@ district, the new fashionable neighbourhood for the tertiary sector in Barcelona. In the so-called technological hub of the Catalan capital, a melting pot for large office projects being developed in the city, BCA has worked on fifteen jobs, including the Cornerstone building, the UA1 property and Torre Pujades (…).

But in order to handle this volume of buildings in the most rapidly growing prime area of Barcelona, BCA has had to win the trust of various real estate players over the last two decades. Once again, Blanch refers to his motto of not waiting for the opportunities to come to you. In this way, he and Conca launched their studio with clients that were “very important but with very small projects, including several in the banking sector”, says the architect. Leading entities in Cataluña such as La Caixa and Banco Sabadell backed their firm, which started out designing bank branches, “a product that its very limited from an architectural point of view but for which there was a lot of demand at that time and that guaranteed us income to allow us to survive”, adds Blanch.

That specialisation carried out by BCA also boosted the growth of the studio. Heads of the banks that they worked with recommended Blanch and Conca to their superiors for most high-profile projects such as entire buildings and regional offices, but “combining these larger jobs with the bank branches, that was our formula for success”, says the architect.

The remodelling of Vía Augusta, 21 for Colonial launched them into the office sector 

The next success story came with the complete remodelling of a building owned by Colonial on the corner of Vía Augusta and Diagonal, in the heart of Barcelona. That project, which was completed in 2000, “really put us on the map in the office sector”, says Blanch. More than one property developer and fund called at BCA’s door after that and allowed the firm to participate in larger projects (…).

Following the building on Vía Augusta 21, many more projects emerged, mainly in Cataluña but also in Madrid, the Community of Valencia, Navarra, Murcia, the Canary Islands and Aragón. And BCA does not only survive on offices. The studio also carries out projects in the residential, hotel, facilities and urban planning sectors (…).

Like many other large architecture studios, BCA has also undertaken work at airports. The firm won a public tender to expand Terminal C at El Prat (…).

Original story: Eje Prime (by J. Izquierdo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Azca & Diagonal: The Most Sought-After Office Space In Spain

17 July 2015 – Expansión

According to the consultancy firm JLL, the scarce supply and improving economy will cause office rental prices in Madrid and Barcelona to rise by more than anywhere else in the EMEA region over the next five years.

Specifically, the consultancy expects that office rents will rise in Madrid by 6.2% each year on average, from €25/m2/month in 2014 to €34.5/m2/ month in 2019. Meanwhile, rents in Barcelona will increase by 5.3% per year, to €23/m2/ month by the end of 2019. The highest rents will be seen in the prime areas, i.e. in the central business districts: Azca in Madrid and Avenida Diagonal (between Francesc Macia and Maria Cristina) in Barcelona.

In fact (…) prices in Barcelona will not only rise on Diagonal, they will also increase on Paseo de Gracia. Overall, rents increased by 6% in Q2 2015 in Barcelona, to reach €19/m2/month on average in those two areas.

According to JLL, only 15,000 m2 of office space is currently available on the best section of Diagonal, out of a stock of around 275,000 m2 in that area, which represents an availability rate of around 5%, a figure not seen since 2008.

In fact, between 2010 and 2011, large companies such as Axa, Unilever and KPMG decided to leave the business district and move to more peripheral areas. Axa left ‘La Illa’ to move to WTC Almeda Park in Cornella, where it rents 9,000 m2; KPMG was the pioneer in moving to the new Plaza Europa business district in 2010, where it rents 6,000 m2 in Torre Realia BCN. And in 2011, Unilever moved to the Viladecans Business Park, where it rents 7,000 m2. (…).

More office space is available in Madrid: up to 46,458 m2. Moreover, that figure is expected to increase to almost 108,000 m2 in the next two years, as almost 23% of the total surface area of 475,784 m2 in the area becomes available. (…). This is partly due to BBVA’s upcoming move to its new headquarters in the neighbourhood of Las Tablas – the bank currently occupies the building at Castellana, 81, where it will leave a space measuring 24,000 m2, which is expected to become available in Spring 2016. Furthermore, KPMG is going to move from Torre Europa (pictured above) to Torre Cristal (in the Cuatro Torres complex) and will free up around 21,000 m2 of space at Castellana 89 from next year. Finally, space will become available in Torre Ederra (Castellana, 77), recently acquired by GMP, which is going to undertake a complete renovation of the property, to be completed at the beginning of 2017.

Until then, 9.9% of the total office space in Madrid is immediately available. Most is located in Torre Titania (on Calle Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, 65), which accounts for 34% of the available space. The remainder is spread across other office buildings in the area, including the Masters I and II buildings (Calle General Perón, 38), the Mapfre building (Calle General Perón, 40) and the Alfredo Mahou building (Plaza Manuel Gómez Moreno, 2). (…).

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake