It’s not often that an architect is an engineer nor an engineer an architect. Unless you’re Santiago Calavatra. The Spanish born architect/sculptor/engineer is being honored with an exhibition at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. This is the first exhibit at the Russian landmark to honor a contemporary artist and Calavatra is considered to be one of the world’s most gifted visionaries. The show is aptly titled Santiago Calavatra: The Quest for Movement, and it is a testament to an artist who truly does incorporate movement and grace into all of his creations.
Born in 1951 in the town of Benimamet, Spain, near Valencia he began to draw, paint and design at the age of 8 years old. He went on to attend the Superior Technical School of Architecture in Valencia, earning a degree in architecture with some postgraduate work in urbanism.
Not satisfied with his education in design and architecture he went on to secure a Ph.D. in civil engineering at the Zurich Federal Institute of Technology. This education gives him the ability to express himself in a way that is also executable. For an engineer and an architect are rarely on the same page, one must bend to the other and it is never know which will break.
This dual natured artist consistently pursues movement in his work. In Valencia he dreamed a planetarium inspired by the human eye, complete with lid. Inspired by the twisting core of a human being the Turning Torso residential tower rose in Malmo, Sweden. He has built more than 30 bridges, including the Ponte della Costituzioneis over the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. The well-received Puente del Alamillo Bridge in Seville, has just one supporting tower, seemingly defying the laws of engineering. The mast is angled and lean away from the water and, with visible tension, carrying the roadway by its cables.
He also designed the Lyon Airport Station, the Orient Station in Lisbon, the Stadelhofen Station in Zurich and the Olympic sports complex in Athens for the 2004 games and an extension of the Milwaukee Art Museum which Time magazine named the Best Design of 2001.
In the vast majority of his visions, he continues a tradition of Spanish modernist engineering such as Félix Candela, Antonio Gaudí, and Rafael Guastavino, all ground-breaking and non-traditional thinkers. His sculptures reflect his embrace of movement with singular purpose, always moving, always very personal. Some spin endlessly, others rest gingerly and proudly on their bases but ready to spring forth and away.
Santiago Calavatra is just one of many artists and creators born and bred in Spain who have changed the world. If you would like to experience the wonder of his genius you only need travel the globe. If you would like to see the country that he calls home Conexus International can take you there.