A luxury residential block flaunting one-off undulating lines in the Diagonal Mar district
Altitude with attitude: this is Odile Decq's motto shaping her design for Antares Tower ‒ a 30-storey luxury residential skyscraper in the Diagonal Mar district of Barcelona. Undulating lines, transparency and an unending connection with the sea are its distinctive traits, plus red to underscore the city's identity.
Antares is one of the loveliest and most visible stars for the naked eye. Its reddish hue and supreme brightness in the Scorpius constellation make it so central that it fully deserves its label of 'heart'. This cue plus its colour prompted the name for the skyscraper in the Diagonal Mar district of Barcelona: Antares Tower ‒ the 30-storey luxury residential block rising at the start of the iconic Avinguda Diagonal, as if to mark out a stop along the road crossing the nearby area. The building itself, in some of its characteristics, stands as a loudspeaker for that slant of non-conventionalism belonging to Odile Decq ‒ the personality behind the design ‒while at the same time it flaunts the style of the Spanish city: red symbolises not only Barcelona but also passion and life. Just like a painter's brushstrokes, these touches of red light up the top-most rings of the tower in constant interplay with the white of the lower and middle bands, thus becoming a trait of personality and identity.
With her drive to break away from the commonplace and her inclination to delve into different traditions, Odile Decq secured the contract in the design competition to convert a derelict building also thanks to her ability to pick up on a local area's spirit and to convey a sense of joy through cross-references: from Joan Mirò to Antoni Gaudì through to techniques from ancient Greece, without overlooking contemporary elements. Playing with and applying building regulations and urban planning restrictions to the extreme (such as the 100-metre height limit), the existing structure was extended vertically by 10 floors, to make the whole block lighter and endow it with a sense of hovering through a calculated approach of rounding corners. In addition, every floor has been expanded with creation of spacious balconies featuring meandering lines, and these bring slender, dynamic and less solid connotations to the architectural image. It has therefore essentially been an operation aiming to mould visual perception ‒ this in fact changes from every standpoint, yielding perspectives that are never the same. The interrupted curves of the balconies play a leading role in this while at the same time partially absorbing an exaggerated effect of thrust compared to the real and physical height, as was already sought out in the 4th century BC. In this sense, the technique used to shape the Antares Tower exterior may be seen to include a reworking of the entasis effect ‒ the slight thickening of the central part of a column to instil a sense of greater elevation ‒ already well-known and used in constructing the Parthenon in Athens.
The highest point of the skyscraper is the rooftop terrace, in fact named Sky Terrace, with a long corner swimming pool looking out over Barcelona. This connection with the cityscape and the sea is what shaped the interior design choices in the 88 apartments, which come in sizes varying between 100 and 400 m2. They have been conceived to be lived with an eye always enjoying the outside: windows and parapets remove solidity in favour of transparency. The same philosophy also guided the way in the lighting and finishes introduced for a feeling of balance and harmony with the surrounding context. And the same goes for the wellness areas, indoor pool, sauna, gym and hammam, offering fluid lines and spaces in warm tones.
"From the sea to the sky, from the sky to the sea ‒ gentle undulation with slight visual distortion. White and red, red and white, with a few dashes of black." This is Antares Tower in Odile Decq's words, which strike a rhythm almost like poetry.
Location: Barcellona, Spain
Architects and concept: Odile Decq
Client: Shaftesbury Asset Management
Gross Floor Area: 18.715 m2
Local executif Architect on site: Fitarq
Lighting: Studio Odile Decq
Photography by Fernando Guerra and Odile Decq, courtesy of Studio Odile Decq