Latest twist in the Gesa building saga

Gesa building, Palma

Gesa building, Palma. Chixoy, creative commons

The controversial history of the Gesa building would make a bingeworthy Netflix series.

In a bid for sustainability and cost-effectiveness, the former offices of the electricity company have now been fitted with solar panels to become a power producer.

In 2001, Catalan architect Joan Busquest’s ambitious project to reform Palma’s maritime façade with the Auditorium and Congress Palace did not include the Gesa building, which was scheduled for demolition.

Luxury development planned

When in 2004 the electricity company Endesa, formerly called Gesa, moved to new headquarters, it sold the site and the 20,000 square metres adjoining it to developer Nuñez y Navarro for €74 million euros to build 200 luxury flats.

Then, in a bizarre twist, in 2007 the Consell catalogued the building as a site of cultural interest, effectively blocking its demolition. The twelve-story block designed by architect Josep Ferragut Pou in 1977 is apparently an outstanding example of the International Style, which peaked in 1960s USA in such buildings as the UN in New York.

Planning permmission revoked

In 2008, new Mayor Aina Calvo modified the urban planning to effectively revoke building permission on the prime plot in the first line of the sea and the Gesa building became public property.

Given the legal uncertainty, investors became shy and the plans for the congress palace and surrounding area stagnated for years.

Endesa took legal action in 2016 and a year later the town hall had to return the keys.

In January 2024, Palma City Council came to an agreement to buy the building for €25 million, applying for European Next Generation funds of €10 million.

State-of-the-art photovoltaic panels installed

Now Palma City Council, through the Department of Urban Planning and Housing, is leading a pilot test following temporary installation of state-of-the-art photovoltaic panels on a section of the façade of the Gesa building on Thursday 18 April.

This initiative, funded by European funds, is part of the ARV project, coordinated by the Norwegian University of Technology (NTNU), with the aim of creating climate-positive circular communities in Europe and increasing the renovation rate of sustainable buildings by involving 35 partners from 8 different European countries.

The project was developed by the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research and is being carried out by the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research (IREC).

Six European cities representative of the different climates of the continent were selected, in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain.

Óscar Fidalgo, deputy mayor for Urban Planning explained that the objective of this pilot test “is to check if the two solutions being tested are effective in the energy rehabilitation of the building and if they affect its aesthetics”.

From next year, data will be collected and the resulting report studied and evaluated by the City Council, Endesa, Patrimonio del Consell de Mallorca and Comisión del Centro Histórico.

The Mayor of Palma, Jaime Martínez, has expressed a wish to turn the Gesa building into a cultural centre.

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Annie christmas in the Bay of Palma
Written by

Annette Christmas

Annie Christmas loves language and communication. A long-time resident of Mallorca, she enjoys an outdoor life of cycling, horse riding and mountain walking, as well as the wealth of concerts and cultural events on the island. She also plays fiddle in a traditional Mallorcan dance troupe.

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