In an article I wrote a few years ago on Barcelona’s Media-TIC building, for Mark Magazine #25, I concluded my optimistic text by asking: “Will its ETFE pillow system work successfully and eventually make its way onto curtain-wall façades of office buildings the world over? Only time will tell.”
Well, the answer to my question is published in an op-ed piece titled “Smart City 2023” in today’s El País. According to this article, it turns out that the pillow system stopped working only days after the building was inaugurated (which is when I visited it), and that the building is so expensive to heat and cool that it has been abandoned.
This is not the first time a building by architect Enric Ruiz Geli has problems. Unlike Villa Nurbs, which remains to be finished, at least this one reached completion, and at least it worked as planned for a while. Though 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.