CLAD interview

Santiago Calatrava

Multi-disciplinary visionary architect Santiago Calatrava on being artist, technician, engineer and more


Can you tell us about Peninsula Place – your £1bn residential towers, transport and leisure hub in Greenwich, London?
This project is very important to me. There is such potential here. Greenwich is an area of architectural and industrial archaeology. From the top of the three 30-storey towers, you will see the most beautiful fluvial landscape and feel how vibrant London is.

The project appealed to me because for more than 35 years, 80 per cent of my work has been public buildings, and transport projects and bridges. Most architects would think carefully before taking on a project like this. I was no different, but I soon felt I could contribute something to this place.

I want Peninsula Place to be for people who don’t usually have the opportunity to go to public places that are nice and beautiful. I want to make them feel: ‘This is my place, and it’s been made for me’.

The goal is to celebrate the area and deliver important things to the city, but also to humanise the building. If we achieve this, it will be like giving a concerto for someone hearing music for the first time.

What inspired the designs?
The Greenwich Meridian Line. In Spain, if you’re a 10-year-old kid you learn about El Meridiano and it seems fantastic. Now I am building there. I want to impress a child with this design and find elements that excite them. I want them to think, ‘Wow, this is where the Meridian Line passes through.’ Because that is an extraordinary fact that many people in London have forgotten. We want to recall these childhood ideas and memories, and give them form.

Therefore, the bridge and its vertical cable will create a sundial in a playful element that shows a kid that the shadow at noon goes always to the north side.

Many of your buildings move – like the solar panel ‘wings’ on the Museum of Tomorrow’s roof, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – or look poised to take flight. Why is this?
From day one, movability has been important to me. It was the subject of my doctoral thesis. The industrial technology available today means we can create this sense that architecture is no more an aesthetic and firm thing, but rather something that transforms, something alive, something new and poetic.

When I speak to you, I am gesticulating with my arms and hands. When wind blows, trees move and water ripples. It’s the same with my buildings. They are not static. By transforming, they can adapt with time and capture an instant.

For example, they react to the weather. With Peninsula Place, if it’s cloudy and cold, I can close the roof of the Winter Garden. If it’s sunny, I open it. It’s like an old friend told me: if you don’t like the weather in London, wait 10 minutes for it to change.

Do you consider yourself foremost an architect or engineer?
For me, it’s about how I can use engineering in a way to signify a place. This is the way I have been with building with technology. I use it to push the limits of expression.

The possibilities of technology are fascinating because we can trust it. People hang in single-cable cable cars every day, and they are relaxed. They go in an elevator in a tall building, but they have no worries. Technology can move us towards a new architecture. You know, there is no difference between art and technique, nor between architecture and engineering. Both serve the art of construction.

An engineer uses technique, which comes from the ancient Greek word technikí. But the Greeks also have the word téchni, meaning art. The worker – tektón – has a skill, which is used to achieve art.

How do you feel about the criticism sometimes levelled against you?
I’ll tell you a brief story. At the age of 82, when he was completely deaf, Francisco Goya, the great Spanish painter, left Spain and went in exile to Bordeaux, France.

Then, suddenly, he moved to Paris, where nobody knew him and where he could only communicate by writing in Spanish. Even the French culture minister asked why this man had moved there. Well, he went there, deaf and alone, to learn photography.

From around this time there is a small drawing by Goya of an old man, bent over with two walking sticks. It is titled Aun aprendo. It means, ‘I am still learning’.

Santiago Calatrava was interviewed by Kim Megson. Read the full article in CLADmag issue 2 2017.

www.cladglobal.com/archive

Greenwich Peninsula

According to developer Knight Dragon, Greenwich Peninsula is London’s largest single regeneration project. The company is building 15,720 new homes in seven new neighbourhoods, wrapped by 2.6km of the River Thames.

A major film studio, a new design district, schools, offices, health services, public spaces and a 5km running trail are also being created. Architecture firm Allies and Morrison have masterplanned the £8.4bn project, and Marks Barfield, DSDHA, Alison Brooks, Duggan Morris and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill have all designed buildings there.

The gateway to Greenwich Peninsula, Santiago Calatrava’s Peninsula Place “signals the intent and ambition for this district.” Knight Dragon is spearheading the development with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London.

Knight Dragon chief executive Richard Margree says: “Arts and culture is embedded in everything, including the buildings. That was the particular appeal of choosing Calatrava to design Peninsula Place, with his artistic, engineering and architectural background.

“Creating a community doesn’t come about because people write it on a master plan. You’ve got to passionately believe in it. You have to build a sense of civic pride into neighbourhoods, otherwise you end up with dormitory towns. Everybody who visits here, lives here and works here is welcome in the public spaces we’re creating.”

The Winter Garden
The Winter Garden
Peninsula Place Bridge
Peninsula Place Bridge

Bridges of Calatrava

Margaret McDermott Bridge
Dallas, Texas • upcoming

Crati River Bridge
Cosenza, Italy • upcoming

Peace Bridge
Calgary, Canada • 2012

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge
Dallas, Texas • 2012

Samuel Beckett Bridge
Dublin, Ireland • 2009

Ponte della Costituzione
Venice, Italy • 2008

Chords Bridge
Jerusalem • 2008

Three bridges
Reggio Emilia, Italy • 2007

Petah Tikva Footbridge
Petah Tikva, Israel • 2005

Harp, Cittern and Lute Bridges
Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands • 2004

Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay
Redding, California • 2004

James Joyce Bridge
Dublin, Ireland • 2003

Women’s Bridge
Buenos Aires, Argentina • 2001

Puente del Hospital
Murcia, Spain • 1999

Campo Volantin Footbridge
Bilbao, Spain • 1997

Trinity Bridge
Greater Manchester, UK • 1995

Alameda Bridge
Valencia, Spain • 1995

Mimico Creek Bridge
Toronto, Canada • 1994

Lusitania Bridge
Mérida, Spain • 1992

Alamillo Bridge
Seville, Spain • 1992

Bac de Roda Bridge
Barcelona, Spain • 1987

Peace Bridge, Calgary, Canada / PHOTO: shutterstock.com
Peace Bridge, Calgary, Canada PHOTO: shutterstock.com
Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, Ireland / PHOTO: shutterstock.com
Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, Ireland PHOTO: shutterstock.com
Sundial Bridge, Redding, California / PHOTO: shutterstock.com
Sundial Bridge, Redding, California PHOTO: shutterstock.com
company profile
Company profile: TVS Group
The TVS Group supply and install sports and fitness flooring to a wide range of facilities. We cater for every type of exercise and every level of competition, from recreational to elite level performance.
videos
BluGalaxy a Division of Blu Spas
Blu Spas
This animation showcases the beautiful concept design of BluGalaxy Spa.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
The Shenzhen Sky Garden will be built on existing reclaimed land
Stephen Barrett (left) 
and John McElgunn (right) were both made partners at RSHP in 2016
"Leisure space – public space – is at the very root of democracy, and architecture is about democracy"

As RSHP completes its latest cultural project, we speak to two of its partners about why Richard Rogers isn’t leaving his succession to chance

The Mr Fisher restaurant is one floor below the water level and serves seafood
Martin Jochman founded JADE+QA in 2013. He formerly worked for Atkins
"We didn’t want to put in any gimmicks. We wanted to create a building that’s inherently sustainable through passive sustainability"

When Martin Jochman set out to transform an old quarry into a luxury hotel, he faced some serious challenges

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
CopenHill is part of an extensive regeneration of the former industrial dockland area of Amager
"It was born from the sheer anxiety of having to submit something brilliant in a very short timescale"

How a moment of desperation led to BIG’s CopenHill, the clean power plant that’s doubling as a skiing and leisure destination. Magali Robathan speaks to the architects that made it happen

The museum’s glass façade was designed to evoke a pleated Roman toga
Elizabeth de Portzamparc
"We need to stop the destruction of our world through predatory practices. We need to think of the future"

The architect behind Nimes’ Musée de la Romanité on designing to counter loneliness and the need for more cultural buildings

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, US
José Almiñana
"We are committed to designing evocative landscapes informed by the best environmental science"

The Andropogon principal on pushing the boundaries of landscape design for the benefit of humans and nature

features
"We tried to take over in a friendly way"

The Standard’s first London hotel is bold, fun and full of surprising touches

The Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant features 12m-high floor-to-ceiling windows
Dana Kalczak
"If we had focused entirely on high tech in the hotel, the artistry we normally strive for would have been compromised"

Four Seasons’ vice president of design speaks to CLAD about working with Norman Foster and creating magical moments

Interview: Blurred lines
Scott Lee became president of SB Architects in 2000. Tracy Lee founded TLee Spas in 2015
"We design to connect the guest to the place, positioning people at the centre of the design"

Architect Scott Lee and spa consultant Tracey Lee on marrying the worlds of design and wellness in a series of interesting projects

cladkit product news
Painting with Light pushes boundaries to create unforgettable visual concepts
The team combines lighting, video, sound and special effects, with scenic and architectural elements, to create unforgettable visual experiences
Megan Whitby
Belgium-based light and video design studio, Painting with Light, will translate the story of your location into a visual experience, ...
Siminetti unveils first glimpses of Mother of Pearl decorative surfaces inspired by the four seasons
The new winter design is finished with naturally occurring hexagonal patterns found in snowflakes
Megan Whitby
Siminetti has collaborated with British designer Chrisanna London to create a luxury Mother of Pearl decorative surface range inspired by ...
Cosm unveils Experience Centre with ‘one of a kind’ LED dome
The new Experience Centre houses a 20m LED dome
Magali Robathan
Cosm, a global technology company that builds end-to-end solutions for immersive experiences, has unveiled its Experience Centre which houses a ...
cladkit product news
Diamond balloon concept merges tourist attraction with advertising billboard
Magali Robathan
A group of Dutch engineers have presented a new attractions concept that combines a flying observation cabin with LED digital ...
LianTronics’ glasses-free 3D Star Trek LED screen attracts attention
Magali Robathan
LianTronics’ giant curved LED wall with stunning glasses-less 3D spaceship display effect has attracted many on the street of Chengdu, ...
ASPA International launches handheld UV-C light disinfection lamp
The compact plug-in product can be used easily in a commercial spa or domestic setting to disinfect surfaces with UV-C light
Megan Whitby
For over 30 years, ASPA International has designed and built high-quality spas for the hotel, health and wellness sectors. During ...
cladkit product news
Christie laser projectors power new Five Senses Bubble dome theatre
The dome aims to integrate technology with arts and culture
Magali Robathan
Christie® GS Series 1DLP® laser projectors are delivering vivid and lifelike visuals in a new dome theatre located in Xiong’an ...
Atelier Alain Ellouz launches handcrafted precious stone lighting collection
LYRA has a sleek, cylindrical design complete with an elegant brass dimming switch
Megan Whitby
LYRA, GAMA, MONA and ATHENA are the first pieces from designer Atelier Alain Ellouz’s new.édition collection of handcrafted stone lighting ...
Móz Designs columns anchor the world’s largest indoor aquarium
The design of the columns was inspired by the sea
Magali Robathan
After a two-year renovation, Oakland-based metal experts Móz Designs have unveiled their inclusion in Georgia Aquarium’s new shark gallery. Located ...