Intempo, Europe’s tallest residential building, is finally complete on Spain’s Costa Blanca

Más Vale Tarde Que Nunca

Intempo, Europe’s tallest residential building, is finally complete on Spain’s Costa Blanca

The 47-story Intempo in the coastal Spanish resort city of Benidorm, as pictured in 2015. (doblecaña/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Nearly 15 years after construction first kicked off, Intempo, an eccentric, vaguely M-shaped residential high-rise towering 650-plus feet above the coastal town of Benidorm, Spain, is finally complete.

Initially derailed by the 2008 economic crisis, Intempo’s journey to full realization has been a decidedly off-tempo one, its momentum disrupted by construction fits and starts, bankruptcies, sluggish sales, multiple owners, resigning architects, and weird internet rumors involving elevators. (But not the global pandemic, apparently.) Still, the 47-story apartment building has emerged from its seemingly cursed status with several noteworthy superlatives still in place: it is the tallest residential building anywhere within the European Union, the tallest structure of any type in Spain constructed outside of Madrid, and one of the world’s tallest buildings completed in a city with fewer than 100,000 residents.

an m-shaped residential tower
(Zarateman/Wikimedia Commons/CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

Home to just under 70,000 permanent residents, it’s easy to label Benidorm, located on Spain’s Mediterranean coast in the Valencian province of Alicante, as that country’s version of Miami Beach. A more apt comparison, however, might be Ocean City, Maryland, or something a bit more Jersey Shore-ish. While Benidorm’s sprawling beaches, family-friendly diversions, and rowdy nightlife scene do attract a fair number of Madrid residents, the town is a particularly popular destination, rather notoriously, for visitors hailing from the United Kingdom although tourists from Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium also play into the mix.

As noted in a recent article on Intempo’s completion published in The Guardian, 100 of the building’s 256 apartment units have been sold, 60 percent of them to Spaniards and the rest to Russians, Germans, Belgians, and Scandinavians. Conspicuously missing, however, are the Benidorm-loving Brits, who comprise nearly half of all visitors to the city.

“I don’t think that Brits who have that kind of money would spend it in Benidorm,” Michelle Baker of Benidorm Forever, a Youtube channel dedicated to promoting the town to British holiday-makers, explained to The Guardian. “It would be too incongruous.”

an M-shaped residential tower under construction
Intempo while under (endless) construction in 2011. (Pixelat/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Per the Guardian, Intempo’s penthouse units, located on the 45th floor within the cone-shaped structure that spans the structure’s two lanky parallel towers, cost roughly $3.5 million each. The building’s smallest condos, which have all been snatched up, started just north of $300,000. Just above the penthouse level, on the 46h floor, is a dizzying outdoor pool. One floor up on the building’s crowning level are more communal amenities including a cocktail lounge.

While Intempo sticks out and then some, Benidorm’s skyline was already impressive for a mid-sized Costa Blanca resort town with a rather salacious reputation. (Although its economy depends on British tourists even more so than ever, the town has attempted to revamp its image in recent years to attract more upmarket, less sloshed visitors.) Notable among its other high-rise hotel and condo towers is the Gran Bali Hotel, which debuted in 2002 as Spain’s tallest building at 610 feet. (It has since lost that title to the Henry N. Cobb-designed Torre Espacio in 2008.) As noted by Madrid-based daily newspaper El País, Benidorm is home to over 80 buildings surpassing 25 stories, with 27 of them topping out at over 300-feet-tall.

view of an m-shaped tower from an abandoned wasteland
(velomartinez/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

“The name Intempo evokes a certain resistance to the passing of time, and as such could not have been better chosen,” wrote José Luis Aranda for El País.” The skyscraper is a symbol of resistance in Benidorm. Just as the popular tourist destination is always visible when you approach the area by sea or land, its urban-planning model has left no one indifferent for the last six decades now.”

Intempo was initially slated to be completed in 2009, two years after construction officially began. The economic crisis of 2008 brought work to a standstill and the project was largely forsaken. Work kicked back up when Spain’s real estate market rebounded and, for a while, Intempo appeared to be finally in the home stretch with a slated completion of 2011. That completion date was subsequently pushed back to early 2014. Its owner then declared bankruptcy and the project spent several more years languishing. Reports of dangerous work conditions also dogged the project throughout its drawn-out construction. (Architects Pérez-Guerras Arquitectos & Ingenieros had stepped away from the project by that point.)

In 2018, Intempo was acquired by current owner SVP Global, which has shepherded the building through the coronavirus pandemic to its long-awaited completion.