Any self-respecting, eco-conscious travelling warrior should visit Madrid's District C, between their rounds of tapas bars and fine art. It's on the edge of the city, in the Las Tablas area, which you’d only go to, normally, to practise your golf swing, but it’s worth it. I took the sleek new metro out of one world and travelled through time, into the future, to another. Not on purpose, but because my friend was doing exactly that (golfing). Welcome to District C.
It sounds ominous. It’s not a prequel to District 9. More like a Spanish remake of Gattaca, replacing Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke with Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, and a cast of 14,000 extras. That's the number of employees who work in the buildings.
Far from being sci-fi at all, though, District C is the new headquarters of Telefonica, one of the largest telecommunication companies in the world. Four identical phases with three concentrated buildings are placed in the corners of the site creating watchtowers defining the campus perimeter.’
Like a Fifties artist’s impression of a future city, the buildings are cool and linear. Open spaces work well within the campus, ensuring a comfortable environment for the employees. This is the business park of the future, now, embracing the challenges global warming presents.
‘A unique special glass system-created only for this project- and an extensive protective and sun accumulator overhang top prevent a scattered perception of the complex. The conjuncture produces a unifying effect to mimic Telefonica's working practice – a unique building to reflect a unique company.’
Fancy words for troubled times in a country with plenty of sun but not enough water. Also water-efficient, District C ticks all the eco-politically friendly boxes.
High up on each building people stand on balconies, puffing away in true Spanish tradition. From afar they look like the leaders of the future, overlooking a new world. I expected to see cars floating past and Buck Rogers waving at me.
And then I woke up, and found myself back in a smoky tapas bar, staring down at my map, trying to work out the best way to get to the Prado. The original Telefonica building, in the centre of Madrid, is really worth a visit. Sorry no photograph, cameras not allowed.
– Alan McArthur