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Torre Cepsa Tower: The cheese grater skyscraper in Madrid, Spain

  • The Torre Cepsa is a skyscraper located in the Cuatro Torres Business Area in Madrid, Spain.

  • With a height of 248.3 m (815 ft) and 45 floors, It is the second tallest building in Spain and the 5th tallest building in the European Union.

  • Designed by Lord Foster, it was first known as Torre Repsol and would have served as headquarters for Repsol YPF oil and gas company.

  • In August 2007 the building was purchased from Caja Madrid for €815 million.

  • Awarded the best Large Structural Project, awarded by the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois


Foster + Partners Architects

Torre Cepsa was originally built as a landmark headquarters for Caja Madrid, Spain’s oldest savings bank – its subsequent transfer to the oil company, Cepsa demonstrates the flexibility of its office accommodation.

The tower’s design continues the practice’s investigations into the environmentally sensitive, uplifting workplace, which can be traced through the design of a family of office towers, most notably for the Commerzbank, Swiss Re and the Hearst Corporation.

Design ⚒️


• CurrentPontegadea Inmobiliaria

• PastBankia; Khadem al-Qubaisi; Repsol YPFDeveloperRepsol YPFArchitect


Foster + Partners; Gonzalo Martínez-Pita Copello

Structural Engineer

Steel Supplier

Structural Material

Composite design: Core: Reinforced Concrete, Columns: Steel, Floor Spanning: Steel

Torre Cepsa
General Project Information

The fifty-five-storey tower is located on the site of the former Real Madrid training grounds, where the Madrid city council assigned sites for four new towers, to be designed by leading international architects.

Torre Cepsa is the tallest of this group. It marks a curve in the wide boulevard of the Paseo de la Castellana – the ‘backbone’ of Madrid – and is carefully positioned to maximise the exceptional qualities of its site. Compositionally, the building can be thought of as a tall arch, with the services and circulation cores framing the office floors.

Torre Cepsa: The cheese grater skyscraper in Madrid, Spain
Torre Cepsa: The cheese grater skyscraper in Madrid, Spain

At ground level, a 22-metre-high glazed atrium provides the transition from the street and accommodates a ‘floating’ glass-walled auditorium set into a mezzanine. At the top of the building, the void beneath the uppermost section of the ‘portal’ frame is designed to house wind turbines, which are capable of providing a significant proportion of the building’s power supply.

Although the building was conceived as a corporate headquarters, it also has the flexibility to be partly sub-let if required, enabling Cepsa to expand or contract its accommodation easily in the future. This degree of adaptability results in part from pushing the service cores to the edges of the plan – a strategy pioneered in the design of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank – to create 1,200-square-metre floor plates.


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At fifty-three storeys and a height of 300m, the Commerzbank in Frankfurt is the world’s first ecological office tower structure. Designed by Fosters+Partners and structurally engineered by ARUP.


The north-south orientation maximises natural shade by directing the low-angle sunlight towards the cores, a move that has the added benefit of framing spectacular views of the hills of Sierra de Guadarrama to the north and the centre of Madrid to the south. Strategies such as triple-glazing the office facades further improve the building’s energy efficiency.

Torre Cepsa Tower
Torre Cepsa Tower

Air Solutions Used developed LG

Key Video Notes:

  • 12 technical plants are present in the structure that contains all the facilities that provide different services to the building.

  • This structure had rooms that were in extremely high-density usage that needed air conditioning requirements that are not present in the supply industry except LG Products.




In terms of composition, the building can be thought of as a high arch, with services and circulation cores framing the body offices.

Designed by Foster + Partners, its floating rectangular arc angle is one of the most ecological visionary designs throughout the project. The open space on the roof leaves opens the possibility of future installation of wind turbines.

Structural System

The structural system for all floors above ground is composed of I-section steel beams supporting concrete slabs of 75mm thickness at each floor. All Floor steel racks are K2G3 S355 / G4. Thicker slabs are used in levels were service floors are located with a 150mm thickness to minimise the noise transmissions of the engine rooms.

Vierendeel truss structures

Torre Cepsa: Structural Arrangment
Torre Cepsa: Structural Arrangment

The Vierendeel frames and truss members take into account the creep and shrinkage of the two concrete cores (red&yellow) of the building so the vertical movement of the two structural components can be allowed. The Vierendeel framework in the perimeter of each floor office has columns that are adjacent to the central wall that provides shear resistance to the steel frame.

Images from: Wikiarquitectura


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