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5 Beautiful Santiago Calatrava Structures

Updated on January 13, 2016
Santiago Calatrava.
Santiago Calatrava. | Source

Santiago Calatrava Valls is a Spanish achitect, structural engineer and sculptor. He was born in 1951, in the Valencia region of Spain, where he studied architecture at the Polytechnic University of Valencia. After that Calatrava started studying civil engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, Switzerland, leading to a doctoral thesis, finally starting his architecture and engineering practice in 1981.

Designing mainly bridges and train stations in his early career, the Spanish architect took over more and more diverse project, his designs elevating the status of civil engineering works to the form of art.


Jerusalem Chords Bridge.
Jerusalem Chords Bridge. | Source

Jerusalem Chords Bridge

The Jerusalem Chords Bridge is a cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge situated in Jerusalem, Israel, used for the light rail system that also includes a pedestrian glass side.

Designed to make a visual statement over the western entrance of the city the bridge resembles a tent in the desert, or according to Calatrava, King David's harp, with the cables as the strings.

Elegance in simplicity is what defines this work of art, it's imposing stature making a grandiose entrance in the new era of Jerusalem's modern design.

Liège-Guillemins Railway Station

Designed to be airy and light, the steel canopy with it's vaulted glass makes no use of facades, relying on the roof to shelter and give it character. A masterpiece of planning and functionality the facility makes use of several pedestrian bridges to connect the once separated parts of Liege, the railways that once did it now being integrated as nine tracks and five platforms under the massive 145 m canopy.

The station is one of the 3 Belgian train stations that are include in the high-speed rail network, being used by 15 000 people every day, trains being available to all major Belgian cities as well as European cities like Paris or Frankfurt.

Liège-Guillemins Railway Station.
Liège-Guillemins Railway Station. | Source
Milwaukee Art Museum.
Milwaukee Art Museum. | Source

Quadracci Pavilion (Milwaukee Art Museum)

The Quadracci Pavilion one of three buildings of The Milwaukee Art Museum located on Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which houses over 30 000 works of art and is opened to more than 350 000 visitors a year.

The entrance hall of the pavilion, Windhover Hall, represents a postmodern interpretation of a Gothic cathedral, making use of elements such as a central nave, flying buttresses, pointed arches and ribbed vaults.

La piece de resistance is the Burke Brise Soleil, a structure consisting of 72 movable steel fins that act as a sunscreen. Fully automated, the 90 tons brise soleil move according to the sun and in situations of high winds closes, taking a duration of 3.5 minutes to go from opened to closed.

Turning Torso.
Turning Torso. | Source

Turning Torso

The Turning Torso is the tallest skyscraper in the Nordic countries, located in Malmö, Sweden. Consisting of nine five-storey segments twisted one relative to the other, the design was inspired from one of Calatrava's marble sculptures called The Twisting Torso, representing the shape of a twisted human body. The highest and the lowest parts of the building are skewed 90 degrees while the exterior metallic frame gives the impression of a spine.

As the Spanish architect has showed in many other works the Turning Torso makes a clear statement, overshadowing everything around it, enhancing at the same time the beauty of a simple shape, rather than over design.

Gare de Lyon Saint-Exupéry.
Gare de Lyon Saint-Exupéry. | Source

Gare de Lyon Saint-Exupéry

This beautiful combination of concrete and steel was inspired yet again from one of Calatrava's own sculptures, the main entrance resembling a giant bird ready to take flight. This work takes also inspiration from the human body, the 500 m long platforms having the roof supported by what looks like giant men in a carrying position.

Designed with functionality in mind and with great interest in giving the travelers an easy route from the airport to the high speed train the station is unfortunately underused, passengers preferring mainly Lyon-Perrache and Lyon Part-Dieu.

Despite this the station is in itself an expression of majestic beauty, being easily considered a work of art that pleases the eye and wonders mind.

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