Joaquín Vaquero Palacios was the architect and engineer who conceived the work as a whole. Its construction was extremely complex. The River Navia had to be diverted through a tunnel several kilometers long. The cement needed for the concrete of the dam and the construction of all the plant’s elements was manufactured in situ, with aggregates from a nearby quarry. It also required the construction of all the necessary infrastructure for its production, including silos and hoppers. Other required materials arrived by sea and were transported to the site by a 36 km long cable car built exclusively for this purpose. Finally, the construction of new roads and villages was needed, in order to house more than 3,500 workers that came from all over Spain, during the decade needed for its construction. All this, together with the more than 630,000 m3 of concrete that were needed, just for the dam, gives an idea of the immense magnitude of the hydraulic works of the early years of the dictatorship.
However, despite the technical complexity of the work, great attention was given in Salime to every aesthetic aspect. The son of the architect Joaquín Vaquero Palacios assisted his father in this task. He conceived huge exterior concrete reliefs and immense painted murals in the interior rooms – the turbine room is one of the most remarkable spaces of the plant, and houses a mural covering a surface of 300 square meters. All this combines with the expressive designs of functional elements like viewports or dam discharge gates that took advantage of the expressive and plastic capacities of concrete.
Salime’s Dam and its power plant are an outstanding works of engineering, architecture and art, a testimony of a time when the modernization of the country through infrastructure was a paramount political program and a key argument for the propaganda in the early years of the Regime.