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Architecture Updated: 09 Jul 2023

The human factor

Hi. My name's Raúl, I'm a communicator, Libra, my favorite color is blue and I travel around the world covering tourist experiences for my TV program in Paraguay.  Having said that, I want to start off this chronicle by being sincere. I'm one of those people who doesn't understand anything about the banking world. I can't tell a savings bank from a coffee machine. The first time I was asked if I wanted a current account, I asked if the current was to 110 or 220 watts. Yes –that's the level of my ignorance.

Picture of La Vela, BBVA´s new architectural Madrid building BBVA

So when I learned I was going to go to a place called “Ciudad BBVA” I said to myself: “Hey, you always loved 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' –here's some material for your next adventure. Relax, smile Raúl, just drink seven coffees and don't forget to take your bullwhip”.

Along with the program's production team we set out to film the experience inside Ciudad BBVA on a cold morning in March, when Madrid was still awaiting the arrival of the warm spring temperatures. As we drew near the neighborhood of Las Tablas, our way to our destination was not guided by the usual roadsigns, but by the vast icon we saw soaring above the skyline. From afar we could see the silhouette of La Vela, the emblematic Ciudad BBVA building and an architectural marvel, towering as high as the Statue of Liberty –and perhaps with the same symbolic value, as the ship's sail, swelled by the winds, automatically suggests movement, progress and change; and these are certainly the three things we found on our arrival.


A Mil KM del Mar, la TV Paraguay visits Ciudad BBVA.

A purely technical description would mention the impressive design featuring seven horizontal buildings named after the continents –from Asia to Antarctica–, connected by internal streets with the names of seas and oceans. Squares, cafes, gyms and even a mini fruit market can be enjoyed as part of people's everyday experience in this non-city –or rather this micro-planet, this ecosystem (that's the only word for it)– as the sustainability of all the natural resources such as light, water and even wind is a conscious and shared decision. The electricity is automated, and the light switches off in a room if it's not in use. I had fun going in and out of the room over and over again. I just had to try it.

Picture of paraguay tv la vela ciudad program interview BBVA

But the best feature of this city is not technological but social –its inhabitants. The 6,000 people that work in different areas to generating a service that's distinguished by something special and irreplaceable: the human factor, the innate warmth.

We only met two out of these thousands of people, but they amply fulfilled our expectations. First Gloria Lamas, director of Ciudad BBVA, who explained all the internal processes of this great banking city; and then Susana López, head of the Ciudad BBVA project, who amazed us with her vast knowledge of the site.

On our departure, as La Vela disappeared into the distance, I hoped this crusade would not to be my last, and I smiled in the knowledge that the next time I wouldn't need to bring my whip.