In October 2008, the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS were made aware of plans to construct a tall tower (178 metres) known as Torre Cajasol (or Torre Pelli) in the vicinity of the inscribed serial property.
By letters dated 14 October 2008 and 2 March 2009, the State Party was requested to provide recent documentation on the project in order to allow a proper assessment of its impact. It was further pointed out that ICOMOS had expressed concern over its potential impact and requested the project to be halted until available documentation has been thoroughly studied. At the time of the preparation of this report, no response has been received from the State Party.
The inscribed property consists of three monuments: the Cathedral, Alcázar and the Archivo de Indias in the historic city centre. The buildings relate spatially to one another but have been delineated separately. No buffer-zone has been defined. The three buildings are located approximately 300m east of the Guadalquivir river.
Torre Cajasol (“Torre Pelli”)
The proposed tower is on the western bank of the river approximately 600 metres from the boundaries of the Alcazar. It is part of the development of an area known as "Puerto Triana" which extends to 66,500 square meters, located between Triana and La Cartuja, whose name relates to a Carthusian monastery. The proposals for this development project include the 40 storey elliptical office tower, a conference centre, and further public and private areas (office space, shops, restaurants, sports areas). A new bridge is planned to link the development area to the historic centre on the opposite bank of the river.
The development is promoted by the Cajasol Company, the board of which includes representatives from regional and local authorities. The architects are Clarke and Pelli.
According to information received from several non-governmental organizations, permission has been granted and construction works are about to start on the ground. It is further understood that this construction permission was given on an exceptional basis, and that the urban development plan of Seville does not allow for such development on this area. It is reported that numerous non-governmental organizations have expressed objections to the tower part of the scheme and the associated bridge, and that a challenge has been brought before the Courts.
The available information suggests that no impact assessment was carried out of the potential visual impacts of the tower on the World Heritage property, such as from important views from the public belvedere of the Giralda or towards the monuments from the banks of the river.
The Director of the World Heritage Centre, the Chief Europe and North America and a representative of ICOMOS met with the State Party authorities on 7 May 2009. During the meeting the World Heritage Centre received a letter dated 6 May 2009, by which the State Party of Spain provided comprehensive documentation, including a visual impact study carried out by a research group (CARMA) of the University of Seville (complete documentation in 5 volumes called “Estudios y Documentos realizados sobre la posible afección de la Torre Cajasol sobre la lista de edificios de Sevilla declarados por la UNESCO Patrimonio Mundial (Tomo 1.- GMU / Tomo 2.- GAIA / Tomo 3.- CARMA (Criterios de evaluación de afecciones arquitectónicas visuales a los monumentos. Estudio de caso: El Patrimonio Mundial de Sevilla y la Torre Cajasol) / Tomo 4.- Documentación complementaria / Tomo 5.- Resumen ponencias)”). The documentation has been transmitted to ICOMOS for review.
The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS were also informed about considerations to create a commission to deal with the impact assessment for the project and ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre were requested to join this commission.
ICOMOS considers that it should remain separate from local experts in coming to conclusions on any impacts. It can offer advice on methodologies and what needs to be considered but then they should independently assess the results of impact studies. The World Heritage Centre shares this view. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS therefore encourage the creation of such a commission to provide a report for consideration by the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS.
The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS remain concerned that permission has been given for this 40 storey tower without the project being reported to the World Heritage Centre, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. An adequate impact assessment concerning the Outstanding Universal Value of this serial World Heritage property and its setting should be completed before any further work is undertaken.