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Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville

Spain
Factors affecting the property in 2012*
  • Housing
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

High-rise development in the vicinity of the property 

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2012
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2012**

November 2011: ICOMOS Advisory Mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

At the request of the State Party, an ICOMOS Advisory Mission visited the property from 7 to 9 November 2011, in order to review the potential adverse impact of the Torre Pelli-Cajasol on the property.

In particular, the mission considered whether and what progress had been made in halting the construction of the Torre Pelli-Cajasol, and what options might be possible for modifying the project, as requested by the Committee at its 35th session, and the mechanisms in place for the protection of the buffer zone and the wider setting of the property within which the tower is located.

The mission met with representatives of the national, regional and local authorities responsible for the conservation of the property (Ministry of Culture, the Region of Andalusia, the city of Seville), of the developers of the tower, of ICOMOS Spain and other non-governmental associations.

On 2 February 2012, the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre a state of conservation report consisting of three letters in Spanish from the mayor of Seville and from two urban planning departments of the city of Seville in response to the recommendations of the mission (20 January 2012: Alcalde de Sevilla and Servicio de Licencias Urbanisticas, as well as 1 February 2012: Gerencia de Urbanismo). At the time of drafting this report, only the letter from the Urban Management Department (Gerencia de Urbanismo) was provided in English on 21 March 2012. On 27 March 2012, documentation on the “Special Plan of Protection of the Sector 7” (in Spanish) was submitted by the State Party.

a) Torre Pelli-Cajasol

The Torre Pelli-Cajasol is planned to be 178 m high with 40 floors. In a plain landscape, the tower project is located outside the property’s buffer zone at approximately 1600 m from the Giralda, the highest building of the property, at 103 metres high.

Since its 33rd session, the Committee has expressed concern about the potential adverse impact of the tower and requested a comprehensive impact assessment. At its 34th session it acknowledged that the assessment concluded that the tower will have a potential adverse impact on the transitional area of the historic city. At its 35th session, the Committee reiterated its concern about the potential adverse impact of the Torre Pelli-Cajasol project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, requesting the State Party to halt the construction works and to reconsider the current high-rise project in order to avoid any possible adverse impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.

b) Recommendations of the Mission Report

The mission noted that since the last Committee session, no efforts appeared to have been made to halt the tower project. Work had continued on the Tower, which at the time of the mission was up to ten floors and construction was proceeding at the rate of about one floor per week. They also noted the continued request by many associations and stakeholders that the construction of the tower be halted.

The mission confirmed that the tower would have a highly negative visual impact on the setting of the property and thus, on its context and relationship to the river and other buildings which support its attributes that convey Outstanding Universal Value.

As is acknowledged in the Statement of OUV, the Cathedral, the Alcázar and the Archivo de Indias in Seville form a remarkable monumental complex that establishes a complex dialogue with its surroundings that contributes to its identity. The prominence and verticality of the cathedral and the Giralda tower have always been a characteristic and powerful reference for the city.

The tower which will rise to 178 m (40 floors) considered to be located in a sensitive place between the right bank of the Guadalqivir river with the "conjunto de la Cartuja" and the historical neighbourhood of Triana and the left bank of the river with the historical centre of Seville; the two latter areas forming the property’s buffer zone. The strong vertical development of the building, together with the close physical connection with historical areas and monuments, amplifies its impact.

The mission identified certain visual axes where the Torre Pelli-Cajasol would dramatically change the prominence and significance of the Giralda. It considered that already the partly built tower changed the perceptions of the Giralda, inverting the relations between the object and its background.

The mission recommended that the local authority find ways to stop the construction of the Torre Pelli-Cajasol and revise the project, through the modification of its profile in relation to the perceived impact that it could have in relation to the adjacent historic areas and to the property.

It considered that any new architecture must avoid the negative effects of drastic or excessive contrasts in the urban landscape but rather embrace the spirit of the place, respect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, contribute to the enrichment of the city, reinforcing the value of urban continuity.

The mission’s attention was further drawn to other emerging new projects for high-rise buildings (not yet approved by the municipality), which could also have a significant impact on the skyline of the city. It underlined that, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of Operational Guidelines, any future project that might adversely impact on the property and its setting has to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre.

In its response to the mission report, the State Party transmitted the views of the Municipal Government (City of Seville) that expressed its wish to ensure that the property is not excluded from the World Heritage List and that it would immediately revoke the licensing of the project to suspend the construction work of the tower. The Urban Management Department (Gerencia de Urbanismo) further states that, on the basis of an initial assessment of the mission report, it recommended Cajasol, the developer of the project, to stop the construction work of the tower, without paralysing the rest of the work on the surrounding lower buildings that are being developed according to the legally granted license.

No confirmation has been received that the work was suspended or the licence revoked. Furthermore, although during the mission, the Mayor’s Representatives stated the readiness of the Mayor of Seville to negotiate, review and explore modifications and solutions to the Torre Pelli-Cajasol project, subsequent reports in the Press appear to indicate that the Mayor of Seville has, following a meeting with the Chair of Cajasol, not taken the necessary steps to halt the work and that construction works have reached 25 floors, at the time of the drafting of this report.

c) Protection and Management

The mission noted that the current Urban Development Plan of Seville (Plan General de Ordenamiento Urbano, PGOU), approved in 2006, considerably differs from the one that existed at the time of inscription of the property and that it was not submitted to the World Heritage Centre. The current plan provides significant freedom for future interventions, in terms of volume and scale, in areas close to the three parts of the property, thus changing the framework of urban relationships with the monumental complex. The mission noted that the PGOU authorized 68,000 square metres of development for the parcel of land where the Torre Pelli-Cajasol is located. However, the local Special Plan (Plan PERI) which is drawn up to implement the objectives of the PGOU, has authorized a larger development area of 180,000 square meters, and ‘a slim body, high-rise’, without limitations on height but rather emphasis on architectural quality.

d) Buffer Zone and wider setting

The buffer zone of the property is included within the extended Conjunto Histórico, which was declared by Royal Decree on 2 November 2009. It covers many ‘sectors’ for which the Decree requires Special Protection Plans to be approved.

The mission considered that in order to provide effective protection of the buffer zone, it is important for the Special Protection Plans to be completed and approved for all ‘sectors’. Currently the plan for the "inner" sector and two plans for other sectors are in the process of public consultation and still awaiting approval.

In terms of the wider setting, the mission noted that any protection of the wider setting is still missing. The mission considered that it is important to protect the setting beyond the buffer zone where this development area relates to the property through landscapes within and around the city. 

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2012

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the State Party had not halted work on the Torre Pelli-Casajol at the time of the mission, as requested by the Committee at its 35th session. They further note that both the ICOMOS advisory mission and other sources affirm that work on the tower has been progressing. They underline that the mission affirmed that the tower has a highly adverse visual impact on the setting of the property and thus on its context and relationship to the river and other buildings which support its attributes that convey Outstanding Universal Value. They are of the view that, following the mission’s recommendations, the work on the tower needs to be halted (excluding the lower adjoining structures of the project) while options for lowering the tower and mitigating its adverse impact on the property are being discussed.

Taking into account the continuing work on the tower part of the project and the absence of any dialogue on measures to lower the height of the tower, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is potentially endangered. They recommend that the Committee express its strong concern about the on-going construction work, urge the State Party to immediately halt the work on the tower and to engage in a dialogue to identify options for mitigating the adverse impact on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies therefore recommend that the Committee inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger in order to allow the State Party to implement the following corrective measures: halt the work on the Torre Pelli-Cajasol; identify options to modify the height and design of the tower to mitigate its adverse impact on the property; and implement measures to modify the height and design of the tower to ensure that it no longer adversely impacts on the property.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies also recommend that the Committee support the recommendations of the mission that the Special Protection Plans be finalized and approved for all ‘sectors’ of the buffer zone in order to fully activate the necessary protection and that it also stress that protection for the setting beyond the buffer zone is still needed in order to protect areas, skylines and vistas that relate to the property and its context in response to current urban pressures.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2012
36 COM 7B.88
Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville (Spain) (C 383 rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.   Recalling Decisions 33 COM 7B.123, 34 COM 7B.100, 35 COM 7B.110, adopted at its 33rd (Seville, 2009), 34th (Brasilia, 2010) and 35th (UNESCO, 2011) sessions respectively,

3.   Regrets that work on the Torre Pelli-Cajasol has not been suspended, as requested by the Committee at its last session, and that no discussions or consultations have been undertaken to consider how the project could be improved and any possible impact further reduced;

4.   Notes with concern the findings of the ICOMOS Advisory Mission that the tower has a highly negative visual impact on the setting of the property and thus on its context and relationship to the river and other buildings which support its attributes that convey Outstanding Universal Value;

5.   Urges the State Party to undertake, in collaboration with ICOMOS, studies to avoid similar developments in the future;

6.   Also urges the State Party to complete and approve the necessary Special Protection Plans for all sectors of the buffer zone and to put in place appropriate protection for the wider setting in order to address the current development pressures; such buffer zone will have to be revised in order to provide the appropriate protection to the property;

7.   Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, technical details of all major building projects planned for the buffer zone and setting, that might impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, together with appropriate Heritage Impact Assessments, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before any irreversible commitments are made;

8.   Takes note of the State Party offer to organize, before the end of 2012, an international expert meeting in Seville to study the issue of contemporary architecture and of historic urban landscapes;

9.   Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a report on the state of conservation of the property and on the advancement and results of the above decided actions, for review by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.

Draft Decision: 36 COM 7B.88

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.110, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3. Regrets that work on the Torre Pelli-Cajasol has not been suspended, as requested by the Committee at its last session, and is continuing, and that no discussions or consultations have been undertaken to consider how the structure might be lowered;

4. Notes with concern the findings of the ICOMOS Advisory Mission that the tower has a highly negative visual impact on the setting of the property and thus on its context and relationship to the river and other buildings which support its attributes that convey Outstanding Universal Value;

5. Urges the State Party to suspend immediately all work on the Torre Pelli-Cajasol in order to allow a dialogue to be undertaken on how the height and design of the tower might be modified to mitigate its adverse impact on the property;

6. Also urges the State Party to complete and approve the necessary Special Protection Plans for all sectors of the buffer zone and to put in place appropriate protection for the wider setting in order to address the current development pressures;

7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, details of all major building projects planned for the buffer zone and setting, that might impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, together with appropriate Heritage Impact Assessments, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before any irreversible commitments are made;

8. Also requests the State Party to inform as soon as possible the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS about any new developments related to the Torre Pelli-Cajasol project;

9. In the absence of confirmation by the State Party that work has been halted on the tower project and that measures are in place to modify the design and height of the building, decides, in conformity with Paragraphs 177 and 179 of the Operational Guidelines, to inscribe the Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville (Spain) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

10. Adopts the following Desired State of Conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger:

a) Completed modifications to the height and design of the Torre Pelli-Cajasol ensuring that the tower no longer adversely impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property,

b) Appropriate protection in place for the wider setting in order to address development pressures;

11. Further urges the State Party to implement the following Corrective Measures according to a time frame as follows:

a) by 15 August 2012: Halt work on the Torre Pelli-Cajasol tower,

b) by end of 2012: Put in place measures to modify the height and design of the tower so that it no longer adversely impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property,

c) by end of 2013: Implement the measures to modify the height and design of the tower,

d) by 2014: Put in place appropriate protection measures for the wider setting of the property;

12. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a report on the state of conservation of the property, including a progress report on the work to modify the Torre Pelli-Cajasol project, for review by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.

Report year: 2012
Spain
Date of Inscription: 1987
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 36COM (2012)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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