Montjuic Communications Tower

Like Prometheus brought the fire with a torch, Santiago Calatrava brought telecommunication via a like-torch tower. The Montjuic Communications Tower was built to transmit television coverage of the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. While the main functions were to transmit the coverage of the games to the world and also to be used as a giant sundial which uses the Europa square to determine the time.

The construction started in 1989 and when the tower stood completed three years later, the tower was not only a functional TV-tower, but also a beautiful centerpiece for the whole Olympic site. The Montjuic Tower is 136 meters high and very stylised like many of Calatrava’s buildings. It could be read as a piece of sculpture carved from pure white marble, or as half dough-ring speared by a bloated toothpick. There is a resemblance to the Skylon once built in London but without the paired-down panache. The pylon, set at an angle of 17 degrees, is connected to a ring-shaped element which holds the transmitting dishes. Like many of Calatrava’s works, the whole tower is sparkling white.

Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

The overall form of the tower is based on a Calatrava’s sketch of a kneeling figure making an offering. The base on which the figure ‘kneels’ is covered in broken glazed tiles in recognition of Gaudi (though with more restrained colors). The base of the tower is covered with mosaic made of broken tile shards – a celebration to the Barcelonian architect Antonio Gaudi, who often used the same technique. 

The tower is also known as ‘Torre Telefónica’ or ‘Torre Calatrava’. The latter name comes from the fact that it was designed by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Today the tower, with its dominating view over Montjuic, is a much appreciated structure for its beautiful smooth shapes. Many people visit the tower together with a visit to Poble Espanyol and Palau Nacional as a part of their Montjuic trip. One can see the  Calatrava’s tower from anywhere in Barcelona pointing towards the sky, it opens the way to new galaxies.

Project Information :

Architect : Santiago Calatrava
Location : Montjuic District of Barcelona, Spain
Project Year : 1989 – 1991
Height : 136 meters

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