In progress: Porta Fira towers in Plaza Europa by Toyo Ito

The extension of the fira de barcelona in montjuïc is planned half inside and half outside Barcelona’s municipal term, at the back of the Montjuïc hill, following the Gran Via avenue straight to L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

Japanese architect Toyo Ito won the competition for the masterplan of the project.

The exposition center will be composed of 9 pavilions and two 114-meter towers, which will be used for hotels and offices. The two towers will be the highest buildings in Hospitalet. The hotel will also be the second highest hotel in the Barcelona metropolitan area.

The buildings feature energy saving devises, a water recovery system waste and the use of solar energy. Each building has a symbolic organic shape, which should bring to mind elements found in nature such as rivers and clouds. Natural light, well-conceived interior illumination and an adequate, functional organization, accessible to the different areas of the grounds, all dominate this design. The towers (and the whole project) are due to be finished in 2009 and are conceived as a landmark, one (a curvilinear red tower, the hotel) being the counterpart of the other (red, organic tower, placed inside a translucid prism, for offices).

Cite: Baraona Pohl, Ethel. "In progress: Porta Fira towers in Plaza Europa by Toyo Ito" 26 Apr 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • Terry Glenn Phipps

    Somehow I get the feeling that showing this as a work in progress is a big mistake. In the one rendering of the finished project (fifth image in the grid, first on the second row) there is a clear feeling of what this is supposed to be. None of that translates in any of the construction photography.

    There are a few projects where the deformation of a structure seems to be a marriage of purpose and form. For example, in Santiago Calatrava’s project for the Chicago Spire the form serves the specific purpose of mitigating wind-load. Likewise, at 30 St. Mary Axe (the Gherkin) the form was an exact response to planning & building code together with the specific agenda to encourage natural ventilation (a feature which I am told that Swiss Re have yet to really make use of – and that is a pity).

    Here I simply cannot suss out the meaning of the deformation. There is actually a mathematical deformation diagram, but no attendant explanation of why this tower needs to be deformed. Is it simply meant to vaguely evoke Gaudi? No one can seriously posit that this is meant to be reference to clouds? My guess is it is simply vanity, ego, and an attempt to create a landmark out of what boils down to a convention center.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with using bold form and color as a branding element for a place. Cesar Pelli has done this brilliantly with the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, for example.

    Maybe this is going to get better as a finished product. I have the feeling that there might be more to it than what we are seeing here. Hopefully that will turn out to be true. At least there is another excuse to go to Barcelona to see the result.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

  • D.


  • Vladimir Konovalov

    it must be a joke…

    • +ve Architect

      I wonder y u r sayin this, this z an xperienced architect, he alone knows y he did this design… leave it 2 him!

  • sisifo

    oh my god, toyo ito , what the heel happened !!!. my veredict:


  • felipe

    wtf, what’s going on with ito, this is definetly not a good piece of architecture, please archdaily, make some filter

  • Lucas Gray

    Another blob.

  • Marcus

    This is a downgrade to the work that Toyo Ito has submitted in the past. I’m an architecture student and I would be ashamed to submit a project like this to my professors. I don’t understand how he won the competition.

  • tommi

    felt bit sick when i looked @ it, guess it’s not gonna help if he wanna win Pritzker ind future.

  • Fino

    I don’t know about this one. Looks like the final curtain has already fallen before opening night.

    that is all.

  • Opium

    I guess that he needed to pay the rent…that’s what this towers do.I am always impressed by mr.toyo ito inconsinstency though the years.Makes me remember another japanese architectural dandy, Arata Isosaki

  • damon

    Phi, i like ur comments. but i sense tt sometimes, architects do the deformation for the sake of deformation, just to look prettier and fancier. Like gals putting on make-ups, to be more attractive. Also, making this specific form identify urself to a certain brand. i know it sounds bias, but to put it simple, if u r not doing deformation, u r out of fashion.

  • Ultra man

    I like ugly architecture. Why architects never try to think more about ugliness? Ugliness is part of the urban fabric, and good taste is the enemy of art. Would you prefer another generic curtain wall facade, or a another turd by Calatrava?
    Better ugly than cute Emo-architecture…

  • NMiller

    I just don’t get it. I have come back to this project several times today to see if it would have grown on me. Nope. The big debate I am having right now is with which tower I dislike more. What is up with that strange shape on the rectangle building elevation?

  • Vero


  • John Avlakiotis

    This in my opinion looks dreadful.
    I hope the economic resession will brin an end to all these super-ambitious projects that keep damaging our cities.
    I can not believe that Barcelona will have to put up with these two monsters for generations to come.

  • kenchikuka

    skin looks good
    the box is a bore
    nice twist on 860

  • claude

    how did he convince the client? cummon guys? how would you go face the client with that?
    come tell me its a late april fool joke….

  • Boris

    I like the red/purple tower. It’s not at all out of place in the home of Antonio Gaudi.

  • Hedgy

    I think that toyo ito continues to make experiments with the humman mind, but this time it is more grotesque then ever, wicked !

  • Hedgy

    I think that toyo ito continues to make experiments with the humman mind, but this time it is more grotesque then ever!

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  • Ivan Velasquez Monge, M.D.

    I was at Plaza Europa, Fira Gran Via, for the European Society of Cardiology 2009 Congress (29 August – 2 September).
    Since the ESC symbol and congress welcome title was placed in front of the Convention Center, we had two choices to have our ‘iconic’ photo taken, that is, our ‘I was there’ photo.
    On one hand, we could have the ESC logo and welcome behind us, with the convention center as a backdrop, or we could have the photo shot from the other side, having the Porta Fira Towers in the background.
    I think people were happy to have their photo taken either way. The uncompleted Porta Fira towers are already impressive. None in my group, nor the surrounding groups, had negative comments about the towers. Rather, people seemed to enjoy them, in particular, the texture, the color, and the shape.
    I personally liked the towers too.

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  • Bobis

    I like it, quite out of the odinary.