Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Scientific Architecture and Calatrava's Plans

Seed, that new science-and-culture magazine I mentioned a while back, has an article (not available on-line, as far as I can tell) about how architects are eschewing boxes and basing their work on organic shapes and objects. They mention a worm-like pavilion in Holland, a science center in Germany, some spa buildings based on the airflow around termite mounds (!) in Botswana, and a museum in Lyon that reminds me of the EMP in Seattle. None of those particularly interest me. The fifth project they profile is the Malmo Tower in Sweden, an apartment building designed by brilliant bridge and train-station designer Santiago Calatrava.

The Malmo Tower looks very much like a twisted spine. It's a really striking building. And if you live in New York, you can (and should!) go to the Met to check out their exhibit of Calatrava's sculptures and models. Calatrava built small sculptures of this idea, the twisted spine, to explore shapes and proportions, and the Met has that (and a number of other things) on display. The exhibit runs until March 5th, so go soon! It was my favorite thing I saw in my visit a couple of months ago!

Catatrava is no stranger to New York, of course. He's designed a radical shell-like train station to go next to the WTC site. It's the only bit of construction down there that's actually (a) critically acclaimed and (b) likely to be built soon. He also has a design for a residental tower made of offset cubes that will be built on the other side of downtown just as soon as they get down payments on enough of the $29 million condos to start construction...

And in the news today, courtesy of everyone's snarky friends at Curbed, comes word that "Calatrava has lost his mind". He's designed, pro bono, a Giant suspended gondola which could connect Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Governor's island! The city has plans to develop Governor's island sometime soon, and has asked for brainstorming ideas. This one's pretty radical, but appealing in some sort of weird way.

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