Santiago Calatrava – The Architect Who Blends Art With Engineering

Santiago Calatrava is one of the world’s most celebrated architects. Born in Spain in 1951, he studied at his city of birth, Valencia, receiving diplomas in architecture and urbanism. Later he studied for a second degree in civil engineering in Zurich. As a child, Calatrava had always wanted to become an artist. These leanings have never left him throughout a very successful professional career.

The work of Swiss-French architect, Le Corbusier, an early architectural modernist, intrigued Calatrava. He realized he could combine his twin passions of art and architecture to produce memorable and stylish building designs. Calatrava was also inspired by Robert Maillart, a Swiss civil engineer. Maillart pioneered the use of reinforced concrete in his innovative arched and beamless bridges.

Calatrava has designed many bridges himself, using his own flamboyant style. One of his most famous is the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas, Texas, constructed in 2012. Visible from miles around, this stunning structure almost appears to defy gravity. Suspended from a massive steel arc over 400’ high, a cat’s cradle of 58 white cables supports the six-lane 686’ long concrete bridge deck.

Calatrava has always sought to elicit emotion from the basic dynamic principles of physics. And like Le Corbusier, he uses simple geometric shapes, for example, cubes, arranged in such a way to create stunning, ultramodern designs. Gravity is a concept he melds into his designs frequently. His structures are designed with strong, sweeping curves, reminiscent of a planet orbiting the Sun under the pull of gravity.

Nature underpins all Calatrava’s most celebrated works. Sometimes he uses aspects of human physiology. His Turning Torso, in Malmö, Sweden, is constructed with nine five-story apartment pentagons arranged on a steel support.  The ninth pentagon is angled at 90° to the first. The Turning Torso represents a twisting human spinal column, and is the first twisted skyscraper ever built.

Another example of Calatrava’s architectural connect with human physiology is his City of Arts and Sciences and Opera House. Built in Valencia, this science and leisure complex includes a central planetarium which resembles a giant human eye.

Other times, Calatrava’s aims are zoomorphic, as with the World Trade Center Path Rail Terminal in New York City, constructed after 9/11. Calatrava designed the new terminal using a spiritual phoenix-from-the-ashes theme. The central Oculus resembles a bird with outstretched wings about to take off. Like any great sculpture, the structure boasts majestic curves, but it also conveys movement and rhythm. Calatrava says he is always guided by nature when designing his monumental architectural works. He blends engineering with art, creating architecture which touches the soul. With their tilting columns and gravity-defying arches, his works symbolize freedom from conformism.

With offices in New York City, Zürich and Doha, Calatrava has designed groundbreaking works of architecture for clients all over the world. While his structures are praised for their aesthetics, they have also attracted controversy. Some of Calatrava’s projects have gone over-budget. Others, post-construction, have required remedial works.

Despite his critics, Calatrava remains a dominant creative force in modernist architecture. His sculptor’s instincts allow him to create mesmerizing, futuristic structures that are also majestic works of art.


 Wikipedia contributors. “Santiago Calatrava.Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 Jan. 2018. Web. 11 Jan. 2018.

Santiago Calatrava SPANISH ARCHITECT, written by: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Spotlight: Santiago Calatrava, written by Eric Oh, July 28, 2017

Revived renaissance – James Kerr GIF art

Visiting an art museum can be exhausting. You walk through galleries to see the grates of past times and admire, but… would it be even better if all those characters hang on the walls could move and speak… and what story would they tell? Probably disappointed by a museum visits, James Kerr let his imagination run free and found a way to give these characters a voice. When he started posting digital collages on Tumblr in 2012 under pseudonym Scorpion Dagger, he wasn’t aware that this hobby would bring him fame.

The GIFs he makes are inspired by Italian and Northern European Renaissance art. The characters of these paintings are put into different context, usually resembling everyday life of 70s and 80s. One of his favourite characters is Maarten Nieuwenhove portrayed by Hans Memling, but also Adam and Eve, Jesus Christ, Mary, apostles and others.

He makes biblical narrative prosaic and appears to be cynical about the whole thing. It also seems that his GIFs are a humorous critique of today’s consumer society.

James Kerr did some animations for Jim Jarmusch’s recent film, Gimme Danger about punk group Iggy Pop and The Stoogies. The director was missing some biographical scenes for the movie Kerr’s so digital animation compensated.

Kerr puts effort in to promoting his art and encouraging young artists. He published a book of collages which become GIF with use of AR application. Also he is a curator of online galleries of digital art. Some of this work could be seen in asa nisi masa  online galleries’ virtual exhibition STOP AND GO.

We may assume that Scorpion Dagger is exploring the boundaries between high art and digital collages, questioning the use of GIF as art by mixing it with high art. He certainly is a part of modern visual culture, but…will it ever be considered high art?

Modernism social housing in the Berlin-Falkenberg garden city

Modernism housing estates with colorful facades, ornamented with geometrical patterns, red brick roofs, charming wooden windows, shutters and balconies, surrounded with bloomed gardens… this well designed housing estate may be something out of a Disney films, but just as beautiful was the idea behind it.  SdM_4267_RET_300x0 Falkenberg Garden city was created by German architect Bruno Taut between 1913-1916 and was listed on UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008. Industrialization during the 19th century caused migrations from villages to towns which caused many problems. While becoming a metropolis, not only did Berlin faced problem like overcrowding, but also social problems such as unemployment and pollution. Dark and cramped flats without basic hygienic facilities had to be replaced in order to solve housing problem. Taut’s responded was this beautiful social housing project.falkenberg_04_530

6e59530dd4d996689c994138572cc7c4 Its design is based on Bauhaus straight and geometrical style including colorful patterns and wooden or brick decorative  elements. Housing blocks are organized around an acacia courtyard mostly in rows.fullfile1611 “The paint box housing estate”, is what it’s usually called; and it draws from the English idea of the Garden City which should consolidate rural and urban life. Renowned landscape architect Ludwig Lesser was hired to design the estate’s gardens and public spaces which provided lots of fresh air.  100_0238

This was not an isolated project. Other modernist architects followed this idea and some of their housing estate projects are also under UNESCO protection. Unfortunately, when Nazi regime took over Germany modernism aesthetics lost its value and the period of democratic housing building came to an end. The idea of garden city is somehow present today in Berlin as its residents are environmentally conscious with many having private or community gardens beside Berlin’s vast green areas of parks.