Sevilla ‘ignores’ UNESCO warning over Cajasol Tower

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DESPITE warnings from UNESCO that it will lose its World Heritage Site status, Sevilla plans to go ahead with a 180-metre skyscraper in the Cartuja district of the city.

The report carried out on behalf of UNESCO in Sevilla last November recommended that work in the Cajasol Tower, which has been conceived as a 180-metre high, 40-storey office block, be stopped, and that plans be changed to ensure it is not so high.

It considers the tower will have a negative visual impact on the 187-hectare area which surrounds the 12 protected hectares within which the Cathedral, the Alcazar and the Archivo de Indias are located.

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However, Cajasol-Banca Civica, the promoters of the tower, has said that work will go ahead as planned and will present allegations against the UNESCO report to the City Hall.

They claim it contains serious “technical errors”, such as stating that the tower would be within 600 metres of the monuments, when it is actually around 1.7 kilometres away.

The President of Cajasol, Antonio Pulido, held a two-hour meeting with Sevilla mayor, Juan Ignacio Zoido, after which they both appeared before the press to express their “good will” in resolving the matter in a way which will satisfy both parties so the three monuments maintain their World Heritage Site status.

It was previously suggested that if work went ahead, when the World Heritage Committee meets in Saint Petersburg this summer, they could decide to put Sevilla on the list of Endangered World Heritage Sites, as the step before removing this distinction.

However, Pulido said that the report had already been seen by the committee three times and it hasn’t resulted in Sevilla’s monuments being considered as endangered.

This has only happened on two previous occasions, in 2009 in Dresden for building a bridge over the Elba, and in Oman in 2007 when the country decided to reduce the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary by 90 per cent after petrol was found in the area.

The report has been handed over to the Ministry of Culture which will speak with the Junta de Andalucia and Sevilla City Hall.

Construction started in 2008 and was due to finish next year.

There will be two commercial buildings designed by Cesar Pelli flanking the skyscraper.

Photo credit: Anual
By Jennifer Leighfield

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