Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Santiago Calatrava

Part of the series of entries on Architecture of the Twenty-first Century


Santiago Calatrava, WTC Transportation Hub, World Trade Center, New York, (Designed 2007)

His designs often look like spinal cords suspended by cable. The Ground Zero transportation Hub appears to this writer like a chunk of human spine transmogrified into a flying crustacean complete with Superior articular process, though these last are long pointed extensions. The Turning Torso in Malmo, Sweden twists like a human athlete preparing to throw a discus as it rises 866 feet into the sky. The Milwaukee Art Museum, though designated Postmodern looks like a Cubist rendition of birds in flight. He has designed a planetarium that is like a human eyeball complete with hydraulic eyelid. He is an architect with an engineering degree, and all his structures are engineering marvels based at least in part on skeletal structure, which makes them organic, and coincidentally Metamodern rather than Postmodern

Calatrava, born in Valencia, Spain in 1951 was known early on in his career for the bridges he designed, the first of which was built for the Barcelona Olympic Games. During the 1990’s he designed many large public facilities and more unusual suspension bridges including the City of the Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, the railway station, Care de Lyon Saint-Exupery, Lyon, France, and the Alamillo Bridge (Puente del Alamillo) in Sevilla, Spain. At the same time he began to exhibit abstract sculptures based on the same engineering techniques as his buildings and bridges.

During this century Calatrava has continued to create buildings and bridges based on skeleton-like structures. These include The Athens Olympic Sports Complex, Athens, Greece, The Turning Torso in Malmo, Sweden, and the Liege-Guillemins train station in Liege, Belgium. These structures often look like some fantastical creature - at once impossible, wearing its skeleton on the outside and surreal - has landed in the middle of the cityscape. They immediately meet the two most important criteria for a Metamodern designation. They are both fantastic/surreal, and organic. That they are often mistakenly called Postmodern fits in with Vermeulin and Van den Akker's notions of the Metamodern as oscillating between oppositions, and this author’s idea that a model for the Metamodern would look like pairs of oppositions moving and colliding with and among one another in a three-dimensional space.


Documentation for this article is established through the links above with the exception of the following two notations.

*1 "Santiago Calatrava Shows his WTC Transportation Hub at Queen Sofia Spanish Institute," Art Knowledge News, The Art Appreciation Foundation, http://www.artknowledgenews.com/Santiago_Calatrava_Shows_his_WTC_Transportation_Hub.html. Viewed Saturday, October, 8, 2011. One time use of images for intellectual purposes is acceptable within United States Copyright Law.

*2 Tzonis, Alexander, Santiago Calatrava: Complete Works, Expanded Edition, New York; Rizoli (2007).

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