Armacell in the Torre Agbar, the landmark of Barcelona

Barcelona has long been regarded as the architectural capital of Europe. The Agbar skyscraper represents the architectural icon of the Spanish metropolis. Its French star architect Jean Nouvel drew his inspiration from the nearby Montserrat Mountain. The organic appearance of Torre Agbar is designed in honour of its client, Barcelona’s water company Aguas de Barcelona, "Agbar" for short. The skyscraper is considered to be a tribute to Spain’s famous architect, Antoni Gaudí.

Preventing Energy Losses with Armacell Insulation Materials

To keep energy losses on pipes and air-ducts as low as possible, the choice of insulation played a significant role while the material had to fulfil exacting requirements. The technical insulation materials had to comply with the Spanish regulation on technical installations in buildings (RITE). The fire performance had to be classified as M1 (low flammability). The thermal conductivity of the products must not exceed 0.040 W/m•K at 20 °C.

The Armacell products Armaduct, SH/Armaflex and Armaflex IT fulfil these requirements.

  • The air-ducts of the air-conditioning system were insulated with 15,000 m² of Armaduct in insulation thicknesses of 10, 15 and 30 mm.
  • The cooling-water pipes of the air-conditioning system, which have a temperature of 6 °C, were insulated with 7,000 m of Armaflex tubes in the insulation thicknesses 30 mm (for pipes up to DN 90) and 40 mm (for pipe diameters ranging from DN 100 to DN 200).
  • The hot-water pipes of the air-conditioning systems with a temperature of 50 °C were insulated with SH/Armaflex. Here 7,000 m of tubes were installed in the dimensions 30 mm (pipes with a diameter of up to DN 100) and 40 mm (pipes with diameters between DN 125 and DN 200).


Spectacular Construction in a Multitude of Colours

With 35 floors above ground and four below ground the Agbar Tower reaches a height of 142 m and is crowned by a glass dome. The building has a total floor space of 39,000 m², 30,000 m² of which are used for offices. Each floor has a different ground plan.

The building consists of two non-concentric, oval cylinders. Stairs, service lifts and the building service installations are located in the core of the skyscraper. The open-plan offices are situated between the inner and outer cylinder. The concrete façade is covered with polished aluminium and painted in 40 different colours. The façade is sheathed in a skin consisting of almost 60,000 louvers of clear and translucent glass. Seen close up, the façade shimmers like the skin of a reptile. From a distance it appears to be a liquid mass, which changes colour depending on the light.

Unique Bioclimatic Architecture

The architectural team made use of the advantages of the climatic conditions to keep the energy requirements as low as possible and increase the living quality. The orientation of the building is such that the sun shining through the 4,500 windows contributes to heating. At the same time the windows provide natural ventilation. A chamber of air is formed between the outer wall and the glass skin, providing the building with natural air-conditioning. Some of the glass louvers on the South side have photovoltaic surfaces to generate electricity.

The most energy-efficient technologies were used in the case of the building services. For the air-conditioning and heating of the building, a VRV system was installed with 27 different “climate zones” per floor. A central system regulates and optimizes the air-conditioning and heating needs depending on the outdoor temperatures and the occupation of the offices.