Special feature: Spanish public


Slideshow: Spain's economy may be in tatters but that hasn't stopped it opening a raft of impressive public buildings in towns, cities and even remote villages over the past year. Amid bailouts and claims that extravagant architectural projects have helped cause the problems, here's a celebration of more modest projects from Spain such as museums, town halls, markets, auditoriums, bridges and even railway control centres featured on Dezeen recently.

Update 15/06/12: this story was originally titled "how Spain spent its money." We changed it in response to feedback from readers (see comments section below) who felt we were blaming the projects featured for the country's current economic problems, which was not our intention.

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Dezeen Wire: Spain accused of wasting money on extravagant buildings »

  • nicola

    at least spain spent the money in something that last, instead here in Italy money goes in corruption or useless major work like TAV

    • ppp

      Don't worry, we spent a lot of money on that too ;)

    • spain is pain

      Check about the high-speed system in Spain, named AVE, with stops in little cities of less than 10.000 inhabitants or medium sized cities without any need for such an expensive railway system, and you will know what means ‘useless major work’.

      If you want to know about corruption, check also Spain, and even you can check about corruption in the architectue field learning about Calatrava in Valencia.

      Or you can visit the 2 new airports (Castellón and Ciudad Real) that have never been open to the public … Spain is pain.

    • massimo

      You are surely right! Spain produced a lot of very good architectural works, being an example for other countries.

      In Italy, we spent money only on corruption. Neither a single euro was spent for something good!

      Look at the Expo in Milan. I’m pretty sure it will be a failure for sure. First time ever.

  • alpapi

    That Spain has built high quality architecture in the past and that right now goes through a tough economical crisis is a fact, but I totally disagree with the choice of examples chosen to represent the waste of money that meant “public building” for the last 20 years to explain present situation.
    You just can not choose the last 20 projets from dezeen’s archive (many of them of high quality and low budget) to support such a statement when there are many other clear examples of huge projets that spent hundreds of millions and are useless or where conceived out-of-scale.
    As an architect and as a spanish I do reject spectacular architecture that involves huge budgets but this article just scratches the surface of what real situation is.

  • mamü

    The funny thing is, Spain did not spend it's own money ;-)

  • charlie

    This is simply a demagogic and superficial article.

    • The article was an honest response to all the comments criticizing Spanish projects merely because of their current economic crisis.

      And if anyone wants to try to understand how the Spaniards got themselves in such a pickle, may I suggest the viewing of Españistán ;)

      • Ana

        Yes, Españistán shows perfectly how we become a pain in the ass to ourselves. Good point

  • miguel

    @ charlie

    you are right that it is simple, but it has its truth. In “rich” germany we are closing public swimming pools, theaters, sell public spaces and have run down schools. In poor spain you can see one new building after another… Schools, Theatres, Museums.

    The people who spent money there ruined the life of the young generation.

    • charlie

      I´m not telling Spain is down right everything, i just mean this is not the economic problem ot the country at all, it has much to do with the productive system, over-focused on making residential buildings hoping to be adquired, for example, by Germany’s “rich” people, in the same way your country produces cars for the whole world.

      It´s obvious it doesn´t work and even almost takes Spain to ruin.

      We’ve wasted this false rich period also buying expensive Mercedes, BMW cars, high nordic definition TVs and telephones, and we didn´t hear no one censure word about. As is used to say “Qué fácil es hacer leña del árbol caído”.

      Anyway, I used to read this blog and I´m quite surprised because this is the first time I find the blog focuses on architecture from this mixed political-economic point of view, and does it with such lack of rigour.

  • Those building will make great homes to private collections once they start foreclosing on them.

  • Between pharaonic 'useless' projects and politicians bagging public monies, I will always choose the former.

  • leyre

    I´m a Spanish architect. I thought that this was a serious architecture review.

  • Gary

    You forgot Seville!!!!

    • nat

      That’s true…because at least Spanish architecture by Spanish architects is good… Sevilla is a monster…

  • ggg

    I am really ashamed about what my country has done. As a Spaniard and as an architecture lover.

    Sorry world! What we have is what we deserve.

    Regards from Barcelona

    • massimo

      I'm from Italy and i'm a student in architecture… I'm sorry.. but so far Spain is one of the few country who made really good architectures.. lucky you!!!!

      • Ana

        I totally agree with you. The thing is that sometimes you have to stretch your budget to the maximum, or even don´t spend a penny. Anyway, what is done is done, although right now we have to restore what has been made in the past 20 years.

  • nacho

    Encouraging political confrontation between people with a completely carelessly chosen list of projects?

    What a piece of tabloid journalism.

  • Laus

    Is this an architecture magazine? Really? Please don´t write about politicians or economists… just write about architects.

  • nat

    VERY STUPID POST!!!! The probem was NOT the architecture. Very simple mind the one which wrote that…

    I have never seen in deezen such demagogic post. I think you offended a lot of people and a lot of architects like me.


  • Anna

    Spain is broke because they had to bail out their banks, in fact they're still bailing out their banks! Before the crash, the government was paying off it's debt, they ran surpluses.

    During the boom years, too much money went into the GIPSIs from northern Europe, et volia, bubble!

  • Arturo

    Sooooo demagogic and uninformed!

    Construction crash in spain comes from private housing and big star projects.

    Many of the projects chosen are examples of great architecture with extremely low budget.

    Please think twice before posting. No matter what, Dezeen should not be The Sun.

  • manuel

    This is a very demagogic article! Just write about buildings, and don´t write superficially about politics and economics.

    Otherwise Dezeen will become “The Sun” in the architecture world.

    • Nuno

      DEZEEN already is the Sun of design publications – since when are any of their articles loaded with critical or contextual analysis, not to mention the fact that they are totally devoid of any intellectual significance?

      Dezeen should be taken for what it is – a compilation of photogenic projects and not a blog that encourages independent or critical thinking!

  • morgs96

    SURELY the Metropol Parasol in Seville by Jurgen Mayer H should be on this list!! It has to be THE most frivolous and ludicrous structure in recent times (bar only the ArcelorMittal Orbital thing in London by Anish Kapoor, which at least would be fun to go up on).

    It might have looked cool and novel to the design-illiterate back in 2004 when it won the competition, but by the time it was completed, massively over budget, it already looked cliched and like a big tacky laser cut student model.

    Imagine public funding having to pay interest at today’s bond rates – nearly 7% – to pay off projects like that, when there’s 25% unemployment in the country. What were they thinking? Public works like this provide only temporary stimulus to their local economies, they are an unnecessary waste of money and will never pay for themselves. it is a valid critique to point out the social reality of their context.

  • I don't see why Spanish architects get upset about this. I think that is really true, that although I reallly admire the quality of these public buildings and one can assemble a fat big portfolio about Spanish modern architecture, there was a huge overspending by the Comunidades and city mayors on public architecture. Yet to say, there are no many interesting architectural projects in Germany, regarding to the size and money of the country. But the situation is, without money, you can't build this stuff, so therefore all young spanish architects in Spain NOW are doing unpaid work in internships (if they are lucky enough to get that) or go somewhere where the money is. Like UK, Switzerland and maybe Germany (although based on the boring architecture, that is not that desirable place) So come on unlike my post if you think is not true…haha

  • Pedro Fern

    What is this website about? Do you want to offend spanish people or just spanish architects. I think that you'd better let experts talk about politics and economics.