©Aleix Bagué

Photo above: Design model of the Torre Diagonal Zero, showing the various solutions that have been adopted so far. This was the model presented to Telefónica, which served as a basis for the construction of the finished building.


Torre Diagonal ZeroZero, the new corporate headquarters of Telefónica in Catanonia, is the culmination of a project that entered the construction phase in 2009 and was completed in 2011. Together with the futuristic Montjuïc Communications Tower, which was built for Telefónica to transmit television coverage of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, it symbolises the importance of Catalonia for Telefónica, which wishes to enhance its presence in the region. It was designed by EMBA_ESTUDI MASSIP-BOSCH ARCHITECTS, an architectural practice based in Barcelona with an international range of works, founded and led by Enric Massip-Bosch. Telefónica is one of the world’s leading integrated telecommunication operators, providing communication, information and entertainment solutions in Europe and Latin America. It is active in 24 countries. The ultramodern design of Torre Diagonal ZeroZero and its prime location right at the start of Diagonal, Barcelona’s main avenue, symbolise the spirit of Telefónica: global, innovative and efficient. But the building is much more than a symbol. It also represents an important milestone in the development of Telefónica in Catalonia, where Barcelona has become a meeting point between Europe, Latin America and China. Telefónica has played a leading role in the creation of R & D activities in Catalonia, making the region a global leader in this field. Telefónica’s new headquarters have made Barcelona the centre for the deployment of state-of-the-art information and communication technologies in Catalonia. In line with the wishes of its customers, Telefónica has opened its headquarters to the public, who can learn about the latest technological advances and attend demonstrations and conferences there. Telefónica’s desire to be closer to the public and its customers is amply met by Torre Diagonal ZeroZero, which offers “a meeting place for all in the heart of the city.”


Torre Diagonal 00 is one of Barcelona’s most striking buildings, with its atriums, one of which is unique, in being nine storeys (almost 40 metres) high. Designed by the Catalan architect Enric Massip, who is both an innovative professor of architecture and head of a flourishing architectural studio, located at the start of Diagonal Avenue from which it takes its name. Its prime location and architectural features make it stand out in the urban landscape, clearly visible to pedestrians, seafarers or passengers on an airplane departing, landing or flying over the city. But its significance goes far beyond its location and physical presence.

Two powerful organisations played a key role in the creation of this building. On the one hand, the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona, which has been shaping social and economic development in Barcelona and Catalonia since 1916 and which attaches great weight to the creation of a strong knowledge economy in the region; and on the other hand Telefónica, the world’s third biggest company in the field of international telecommunications.







With Torre Diagonal ZeroZero architect Enric Massip realised his social spirations.
”From the beginning I had clearly in mind that I wanted to build a tower, that would give something back to the city.”


  ©Mihail Moldoveanu

From hotel to office tower

An iconic building for Barcelona


”We won the international competition in October 2000 from a field of about 50 competitors,” says 53-year-old Enric Massip. “All the big names were represented. However, wat the City had in mind at that time of the competition was not specifically a tower, but a low-rise hotel. I wanted to design the building as a skyscraper to highlight its location at the start of Diagonal, probably the most important avenue in Barcelona. And I called it Diagonal ZeroZero to emphasize its location right at the very start of the Avenue. We were the only architects to design the hotel as a tower: all the others drew low, flat buildings. The City’s Planning Commission was impressed by our design. Then the famous international hotel group Le Méredien won the competition to become the future tenant, but the construction company could not meet the financial requirements and the project was suspended for several years. Then the City Council suggested turning the project into an office building. Finally Telefónica was interested in relocating there as a part of its urban portfolio reorganisation. Their multinational empire had expanded, and they wanted new, iconic headquarters to reflect their new status. And our project fulfilled this goal. Besides, I think that for the city it is much better to have Telefónica at the Fòrum. I liked the idea. An office with about 1,200 people working there and eating in nearby restaurants would do much more for the city than a hotel.


“We needn’t be ashamed of building”


©Mihail Moldoveanu
Diagonal Avenue in Barcelona, with the new Telefónica headquarters and the Princess Hotel at the far end.

Enric Massip knew he wanted to be an architect at the age of 4. “I wanted to become an architect, and nothing else. I was fascinated by building, creating reality in the material world. That is particularly important nowadays when we are increasingly surrounded by virtual objects. Even our work has become more virtual and dominated by mobile devices. But someone has to take care of the material aspects, and that is the architect. Many architects nowadays try to camouflage their work, hiding it behind a screen of nature, as if being ashamed of operating in the reality of construction, but that is not a good way of working. We need to make a very clear statement of our objectives. Of course, the buildings we design need to be well thought out, solid and sustainable, but we needn’t be ashamed of building.

The problem is that most buildings are not built following that logic any longer. It’s terrible, most of the new buildings you see when you fly around the world, have been constructed regardless of location, so they consume much too much energy. I would say that is an American model, but you see it everywhere. It is unsustainable, unfit for purpose and devoid of real emotions.”


©Mihail Moldoveanu

Enric Massip’s design for Telefónica’s new office tower at the end of Diagonal in Barcelona (underlined by the fact that its address is ZeroZero) is the latest in a series of striking new buildings clustered in a still largely unpopulated area converted from an old industrial neighbourhood. The tower, 110 metres and 24 storeys high, is aligned with Diagonal, the avenue that cuts through Barcelona from the mountains to the sea. It is topped by a patterned glass curtain wall, extending above the roof line to form a single incredible balcony rail. The structure of the building is a variant of the tube-in-tube model, with the core (or inner 'tube') made of concrete, and the peripheral structure (or outer 'tube') of steel. The latter is divided into two rings: an interior vertical structure of very slender H pillars and an exterior bracing lattice to withstand the torsion and bending stresses produced in the tower by wind or earthquakes.

Kazuo Shinohara:”You have to imagine a project with your heart, but build it with your brains.”

Enric Massip-Bosch lived in Japan for 2 years, where he worked with the Japanese master Kazuo Shinohara, arguably the most influential architect of his generation. “I was teaching architecture at the University of Barcelona, which I still do. I started teaching very young and have been doing it now for some 29 years. I invited Kazuo Shinohara to come to Barcelona, because I was impressed by what he had to say about architecture. He relied heavily on emotions in the design process, and thinks in a very abstract manner, ‘trying to get straight to the point’. But he gave me the following advice: You have to imagine a project with your heart, but then build it with your brains. Architecture cannot be based on emotion; it is impossible, the work would get completely out of hand and the result could be banal and unstructured. I was very attracted to his approach: starting from a completely abstract basis, he made full use of the principles of architecture: the hard world, the structure, materials, program, how to divide a house into spaces, how to use space, and how to organise the work process. These elements are at the heart of architecture. He also taught in the United States. I learned of lot from him, in term of attitude; we were very close. He opened whole new perspectives for Japanese architecture. You cannot understand Toyo Ito and Kazuo Sejima, without Shinohara. He was at the origin of all this explosion of new architecture.”


The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, designed by the famous architect Kazuo Shinohara