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Thread: Santiago Calatrava's Campo Volantin footbridge, Bilbao

  1. #1

    Default Santiago Calatrava's Campo Volantin footbridge, Bilbao

    Another thread for a starchitect lawsuit. This time the starchitect does the suing.

    Calatrava sues for 'violation of copyright' over bridge changes

    By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid

    Published: 26 October 2007

    Santiago Calatrava's steel and glass Campo Volantin footbridge has become as distinctive a part of the Bilbao skyline as the nearby Guggenheim Museum.

    But in a spirited defence of his artistic integrity, the Spanish architect is suing the city of Bilbao for €3m (£2m) for violation of copyright, for allowing an extension to the bridge to be built by another star architect.

    The Japanese architect Arata Isozaki designed an extension to the 10-year-old footbridge to connect with his recently completed riverside housing development nearby. The court case has prompted a heated debate over whether a public building can be deemed a work of art.

    Calatrava is renowned worldwide for his soaring, airy bridges, and, in the case presented by lawyers in Bilbao's law courts yesterday, he claims that the new link "breaks the symmetry of the bridge, clumsily distorts the design... and damages the integrity of his work". He is demanding €250,000 compensation and the dismantling of Isozaki's extension, or, if the new link remains, - €3m for "moral damages".

    Initially ridiculed for "leading from nowhere to nowhere", Calatrava's footbridge is beautiful, but not exactly user-friendly. Its limpid glass floor tiles, designed to reflect the grey-green waters of the river Nervion that flow beneath, are notoriously slippery when wet. For 10 years residents and visitors have complained of skidding and tumbling.

    The city authorities who approved Isozaki's housing complex and his bridge link vigorously disagree. "The paintings of Goya are works of art; a bridge is for people to walk on," insisted Bilbao's mayor, Iñaki Azkuna. Without the bridge link, pedestrians would have to walk down to the old riverside jetty, then up two flights of steps. Mr Askuna concedes that a metre of banister was removed from Calatrava's bridge to accommodate Isozaki's extension, but reckons "this has no negative impactwhatsoever upon Calatrava's work", and that the structures co-exist harmoniously.

    Calatrava's lawyer, Fernando Villalonga, thinks otherwise. "This mustn't happen, because in this country, architecture, like other arts, is protected by intellectual property rights," he said.

    Mr Villalonga accused the town hall of "cheek, arrogance and ignorance". To which Mr Azkuna countered that all 560 glass tiles of Calatrava's bridge have cracked over the years, ravaged by the extremes of climate, and had to be replaced at the cost to taxpayers of €200,000. "If it's his intellectual property, let him take his intellectual property," fumed Mr Azkuna in the spring, when Calatrava launched his suit. "We've had enough of the dictatorship of Calatrava saying we can't touch his little bridge. We've had enough of this superstar."

    Isozaki has stood his ground. "We don't know what arrangement Calatrava has with the town hall," said the Japanese architect's office in Barcelona. "Isozaki thinks that in architecture it is very difficult to seek author's rights because we're talking about a work for public use, so how can you claim intellectual property?"

    The judge is expected to rule on the matter shortly.

    The case comes days after Calatrava's grandiose Arts Palace inValencia was flooded after torrential rainstorms. Mud jammed the stage machinery last week, causing the startof a star-studded opera season to be postponed for a fortnight and some performances cancelled.

    The Independent
    He seems a little full of himself to me.

  2. #2
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Here is what the fight is over ...

    Campo Volantin Footbridge (Bilbao, Spain)


  3. #3


    A thread w/ some photos @ another (very good btw) architecture forum:

  4. #4


    ^Thanks. I couldn't find images of the addition before.

    After seeing what the new bridge connection looks like, I'd agree that it takes away from the beauty of Calatrava's original. However, I really don't think it should matter. A bridge should be functional, first and foremost. If it's beautiful, as well as functional, that's even better. Calatrava doesn't seem to be too concerned with the function of the bridge, and I find that selfish, arrogant, and egotistical. First there was the issue of the glass paved walkway become slippery and dangerous in the rainy climate (who da thunk it). And now he's suing because the city made an addition to his bridge to make it more accessible for people to use. I guess he prefers his bridge to be viewed like a work of art in a museum: look, don't touch.

    I do see the other side of the argument, though. I'd probably sing a different tune if someone wanted to make an addition to the Empire State Building, for example. But the issue there wouldn't be intellectual rights.

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