Thanks to sunny weather and massive public investment, Spain has quietly become a giant in solar energy. But few people know that — which is one reason Madrid is investing in a massive symbol for its solar boom.
The city recently broke ground on a cavernous new convention center whose facade will be made entirely of solar panels. Designed by Mansilla+Tunon and nearly 330 feet tall, it will have six stories of convention spaces, totalling over one million square feet; its largest auditorium will seat 5,000. The building itself will be shaped like a solar lens (or the Death Star, or a golf ball, depending on your perspective). Sited in a business district studded with brand new office towers, it will be an advertisement for the country’s accomplishements in cutting edge solar technology, which may soon become their signature export as countries like the US scramble to catch up with the green revolution.