The Malaga of the tower blocks, the skyscrapers included in the Urban Plan a decade ago, is starting to materialise. The buildings which will change the city skyline forever, are heading towards the clouds without many local people realising just how high they are going to be. One of the two which the developer AQ Acentor is building on the site of the old Sunday market in Martiricos will be 20 metres higher than the tower of the cathedral. This company, which belongs to the German Aquila Capital fund, is behind the two projects which are currently at the most advanced stage. With a total investment of 255 million euros, these are now starting to make their mark on the landscape.
These two skyscapers, located just north of the city centre, will have 29 floors above the ground floor. The one to the south will have commercial premises at street level and 252 apartments for sale, and the other will have a 315-room hotel from the 1st to 13th floors and 198 rental apartments from there to the 29th. Those on the top floor will be 111.53 metres above the ground.
How is a skyscraper built? More than 130 workers from the Avintia company are employed on the project in Martiricos, which has been named AQ Urban Sky. Iván Gómez, who is in charge of the works, says the secret behind these two enormous constructions is a type of ‘self-climbing’ formwork system: based on a vertical column, it rises by itself, driven by hydraulic and mechanical systems. “This makes it possible to lift large amounts of materials without needing a crane,” he explained.
The structures for the different floors are anchored to this type of self-rising central core, so the column is always ahead of the floors. The workers are protected by black panels. “We bring the concrete through the central column via pipes and when the work is finished that will be where the lifts and the stairs are,” said Gómez. It is the first time the type of system they are using in the north tower has been used in Spain. “We can’t use it for the south tower, because its floor plan is Y-shaped, but the north tower is in the shape of a T, so it’s possible there, ” say sources at AQ Acentor.
This construction method permits faster progress, rising by one floor every two weeks, and it makes the buildings extra rigid to protect against earthquakes. However, the two skyscrapers in Martiricos are also designed to withstand the strongest of winds. For this, models were made, a metre and a half high and equipped with 200 to 300 sensors, and were tested in a wind tunnel. This showed the points at which the structure needed to be the most rigid so the wind did not pull it outwards.
In addition, with this method of working, the work on the lower floors can be completed while the self-climbing platform continues to be used for the higher ones. This is why panels have already begun to be fitted to the outside of the lower floors of the south tower.
The aim of AQ Acentor is to have the structure of both skyscrapers finished by the final quarter of this year, and for the apartments in the south tower ready for occupation in the second half of 2023.
“About 60 per cent of the apartments have already been reserved,” said Gómez, although no price has yet been set for the penthouses. “That’s something we’re still considering. With the pandemic it is difficult to get right, but they will be on sale at the end of the year,” he said.
For the moment, the most expensive apartment is on the 25th floor and has four bedrooms, a garage and storeroom, and costs over 600,000 euros. The two skyscrapers are being built over a two-storey car park with room for 535 vehicles.
Top international hotel chains have already expressed an interest in running the hotel in the north tower, and AQ Acentor is also planning to appoint a specialist firm to handle the rental properties.
However, it is in the AQ Jacarena project which the same fund is building in La Princesa, a district just west of the city centre, that renting takes on a more prominent role. In this case there are three buildings above four basement garages with room for 450 vehicles. They will have 349 apartments for long-term rent and those will start to be marketed this year. Two of the buildings will be 14 storeys high (46.25 metres) and the other will have 23 floors (74.15 metros).
The most southerly block will house 110 apartments and will be finished by the end of this year, and the other two by the middle of next year and with 90 and 140 apartments respectively.
The skyline of the Cruz del Humilladero and Carretera de Cadiz areas will also be changed by the 23-story tower, which is being built by a more conventional system. “We’re building the structure of the three blocks at the same time so we can finish them together, and the outsides will look similar, with white and grey finishes,” said Elena Castro, who is managing this project which is costing more than 85 million euros in total.
And there are more to come. AQ Jacarena is a forerunner for Malaga’s biggest skyscraper project yet, on the nearby Repsol land beside Avenida Juan XXIII, where there are plans for four buildings with 28, 30, 32 and 34 floors respectively.
As well as the projects in the Martiricos and La Princesa areas of Malaga, three other 20-storey tower blocks are also being built in the Torre del Río area, which is on the city's western coast, between La Térmica and the Nereo warehouse area. The Metrovacesa company is building the two blocks at the ends and Sierra Blanca Real Estate is building the one in the centre. During the next few months these will start to emerge and be visible above the underground car parks, the structures for which are already in place. Metrovacesa says that its first tower, where the works are currently being carried out at ground level, will be completed by the summer of 2023 and work on the second block is due to start sometime next year Likewise, Sierra Blanca Real Estate says it expects to have reached the second floor of its block by March and for it to be fully completed by May of next year. The two developers have designed these as luxury projects, and are offering apartments for sale for more than three million euros, although the penthouses could well be twice as expensive as that. Sierra Blanca says it has already sold one apartment for 3.2 million euros. It has been purchased by a Dutch businessman.
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