Santander Group City, built in the Boadilla del Monte district of Madrid, Spain, opened in 2004. It’s size and operational implications make it one of the most ambitious and innovative projects undertaken by a Spanish company. The City covers an area of 250 hectares housing nine office buildings. It includes two data processing centres, a residential training facility, nursery, sports and retail facilities, and a wide range of restaurants.

How the City was built

The firm of KR & JD (Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo submitted the project that won the international bidding process held by Grupo Santander, in which Norman Foster & Partners, Rafael Moneo and KMD (Kaplan, Mc Laughlin Díaz) from California also participated. Kevin Roche (Dublin, 1922) is one of the leading exponents of American postmodern architecture.

A disciple of Mies van der Rohe, he developed a spare architectural style noted for its use of glass. His imposing glass structures in 1982 earned him the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest accolade. His most notable works include emblematic corporate centres — for the Ford Foundation (New York) and Fiat (Turin)— , as well as other distinguished projects, such as UN Plaza and the Metropolitan Museum extension in New York.

Roche’s design for Santander Group City is strongly Spanish in character, with low-rise buildings connected by a network of patios, squares and mirrors of water. In addition, it has brilliantly resolved environmental requirements. Ground was broken for the project in May 2002, and two years later, on 13 April 2004, employees began to be transferred to central buildings at the rate of 500 people per week. The City was built in record time, and by the end of July 2004, over 4,000 employees had already been relocated there. In addition, the site was designed to provide services to meet the daily needs of employees: food, transport, sports and childcare centre.

The building of Santander Group City was the second largest construction project in Europe in 2003, behind Terminal 4 at Madrid-Barajas Airport. The City links to the Madrid financial centre via the north-eastern highways, the M-40, M-50 and the M-511 Boadilla highway, as well as via the light railway connecting the complex to the extensive Metro and public transport network of the Community of Madrid.

A city respectful of the environment

The buildings of Santander Group City take up just 30% of the total surrounding land area, the remaining 70% being set aside for green areas that have been carefully reforested and repopulated with native tree species. Energy consumption is highly efficient, with water, electricity and paper savings through shared administration of printers and photocopiers, as well as the maximisation of procedures and systems for re-use and recycling.

Increasing productivity

Technology investment for the City has totalled over 100 million euros and focus on three areas:

  • Workstations, which have been better equipped so that they are both more powerful and more comfortable. 
  • Communications, with the use of faster, state-of-the-art transmission networks that provide increased multimedia communications capacity.
  • Data processing centres, designed to ensure maximum security for the services provided.

Increased efficiency

Location of central services in a single complex improves the efficiency of the organisation through increased productivity and a considerable cost saving. The layout chosen for the office buildings, as well as the design of the installations, facilitate communication and interaction among all the departments gathered together in Grupo Santander City. Before 2004, the Group’s central services were spread over 25 different buildings in Madrid.

Innovation in construction

Santander Group City was the first project of its kind to be carried out in Spain and one of the first in Europe. Construction had to contemplate unusual situations, because of the dimension of the project and the intention to create a quality environment for employees. The solutions adopted in many cases represented innovations in construction.

The main architectural innovations included:

  • The dome of the main building, which is the largest skylight of its kind in Spain. 
  • System of raised prefabricated cobblestone paths that cut installation times and improved drainage.
  • Façade windows with considerable improved yields: 68% more luminosity, 34% less solar radiation, and greater energy savings.
  • Building roofs have been landscaped, forming the largest such surfaces in Spain. 
  • Comprehensive waste management and recycling system for the entire complex.

A city designed with employees in mind

The City provides employees with significant benefits, both for their professional activities and for dealing with aspects of their personal lives. It is equipped with a 600-student capacity Training Centre. It also houses Europe’s largest corporate nursery, with a capacity of up to 500 children, designed to help bridge the gap between family and working life. Santander Group City also has a high-standard sports centre, with a gymnasium, covered swimming-pool, tennis and paddle tennis courts, football fields and basketball and volleyball courts, including beach volleyball, a modern jogging circuit and an 18-hole golf course, another 9-hole par three course and a practice area –including a golf school – available to all employees. All the facilities are linked by an internal bus service.