June 24, 2020


All his iconic projects can also be described as gigantic and memorable sculptures, in which architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava carves a charming, functional infrastructure.

To him, architecture responds to environmental factors and functional outputs, even if the true purpose of his dramatic design is typically more aesthetic than structural: Calatrava’s huge stylized natural elements contributed to turning him into a world-famous star architect.

Santiago Calatrava - portrait
Calatrava’s huge stylized natural elements contributed to turning him into a world-famous star architect

Santiago Calatrava is the neo-futuristic architect of organic, zoomorphic buildings

In 1983 Calatrava wins his first competition for the construction of the Stadelhofen Railway Station in Zurich and from the mid of 80’s he begins to privilege certain typologies of projects, mostly for mobility infrastructures: bridges, train stations, airport terminals, and transportation hubs.

If you are curious to know more about masters of architecture, don’t miss Archi Icons – Renzo Piano.

Santiago Calatrava - working
Santiago Calatrava is the neo-futuristic architect of organic, zoomorphic buildings

Orient Station in Lisbon

One of the world’s largest stations, the Gare do Oriente was completed in time for the 1998 World Expo and remains today for Portugal as one of the most important architectural moments of the century.

A massive metal skeleton covers eight elevated tracks and platforms, with steel, concrete, and glass as the main materials: a structure with a futuristic appeal that became a catalyst for the local urban and social regeneration.

Santiago Calatrava - Gare do Oriente overview

Mediopadana Station in Reggio Emilia

Calatrava‘s passion for mathematics here is more visible than ever: the whole of Mediopadana station is enclosed in an undulating three-dimensional sine curve, the main modular element, made of white steel, concrete, and glass.

The ‘white wave’, the one and only stop for the high-speed train service between Milan and Bologna, is part of Reggio Emilia’s urban renewal project for which Santiago Calatrava has already created three spectacular bridges.

Santiago Calatrava - Mediopadana Station overview

World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York City

A few meters away from the two massive memorial fountains at Ground Zero, Calatrava’s extraordinary steel and glass white dove seems to take off.

A symbol of peace and hope for a different future, the structure is a representation of the unquestionable strength of a city that knows how to react, building architectural masterpieces where the Twins Towers used to dominate the skyline. On the interior, the Oculus is a totally white marble structure hosting a shopping plaza and one of New York’s busiest stations.

Santiago Calatrava - Oculus

O’Hare Global Terminal in Chicago

This project is part of a design competition for the replacement of the terminal 2 of the O’Hare International Airport. Even if not winning, this bold plan shines for ambition: the project envisions not only the new terminal but also an option to transform the airport on a larger scale, with the intention to give to the structure its own identity and style, in the Calatravian form of a beautiful shell-like roof that rises above the concourse.

Santiago Calatrava - Ohare terminal exteriror

Guillemins Railway Station in Liège

Conceived as a link between two different areas of Liège, the station features a distinctive arched roof extending over five platforms, made of glass and steel: the transparency of the monumental vault allows a sense of osmosis between the station itself and the city, emphasized by the total absence of facades.

If you want to know more about designers focusing on structures and urban design, don’t miss Urban design in Turkey – Interview with Melike Altınışık Architects.

Santiago Calatrava - Guillemins Railway station