Torres Kio, Madrid, Spain

Category: Madrid

Madrid, Spain, the country’s capital and largest city, has long been recognized as a place of great historical significance, with many structures and monuments that date back hundreds of years, some as early as the 15th and 16th centuries. However, as a world capital, with a population of nearly 3.5 million in the city proper alone, Madrid has also become a very contemporary and sophisticated city, with modern, state-of-the-art architecture. These new buildings house a variety of important industries that have allowed the city to grow and flourish. The mix of old and new is what makes Madrid such a fascinating place to visit, offering tourists the unique opportunity to witness, firsthand, how the city has evolved over the years. From arched plazas and neoclassical cathedrals, to skyscrapers that tower over the city, the buildings in Madrid paint a vivid and very interesting picture of its evolution. And while tour books are often very quick to point out the sites of historical importance, here we will concentrate more on the modern side of the city’s architecture, specifically the buildings known as the Torres Kio.

Torres Kio Overview

Torres Kio (Kio Towers), also known as the Puerta de Europa, or Gate of Europe, are twin office buildings in Madrid, Spain. Both have a height of 114 meters (374 feet) and 26 floors, making them the second tallest twin towers in Spain, after the Torres de Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Constructed between the years 1989 to 1996, the Torres Kio were designed by the American architects Philip Johnson—a disciple of Mies van der Rohe and the winner of the inaugural Pritzker Prize in 1979, known as the Nobel Prize of architecture—and John Burgee. The towers were built by Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas and commissioned by the Kuwait Investment Office, hence the name “Torres Kio,” or Kio Towers. Other professionals were also involved in the process, most notably Leslie E. Robertson Associates, RLLP New York (LERA), a U.S.-based company that provided structural engineering services. Not only are the buildings roughly 115 meters in height, they have an inclination of 15 degrees, making them the first inclined skyscrapers in the world. These designs were ultimately the work of Johnson, who based them on a drawing by the Russian artist Alexander Rodchenko.

The design and construction of the Torres Kio was (and is) a revolutionary idea, one that broke the long held conception that buildings must have a linear design. On one of his visits to the project site in 1996, the year the Kio Torres were completed, architect Philip Johnson famously said: “We must do away with the right angle if we do not want to die of boredom. The skyscraper is finished, we can forget it. As architects we can now concentrate on the task of making the forms of buildings that improve the man.”

If you’d like to visit the Torres Kio on your upcoming trip to Madrid, you’ll find them at the following address: Plaza de Castilla s / n, 28046 Madrid, Spain. They are within the Plaza de Castilla and near the neighborhood of Chamartin. If taking the Madrid Metro, take the train that travels to and stops at the Plaza de Castilla station.