The present for Calatrava

A present have given to Calatrava: perpetuate his work in China, a country where he had never designed… so far.

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Hi, my name is Rodolfo, as you know, obviously, by the many articles that I have already narrated (I do not write) in this magazine. My surname nor lack does tell you it, because, in a hypothetical and unacceptable case, if not you knew it, you will learn over time, you and your descendants, clear is, as in the series of futuristic science fiction Star Wars, where everyone has memorized the surnames “Galactic” of Skywalker, Solo, Kenobi or Vader, for example.

Similarly must pass another character in the world of the architecture and the engineering, which has earned a place in the annals of the history, at least, the history of those two branches. I do not assess his contribution, it would not be fair, also it would not be productive and that is something that I cannot allow, the productivity is the success and, consequently, the future. His contribution, as I was narrating, is valued by the international entities such as ECCS (European Steel Design Awards), MIPIM (Marche International des Professionnels de l’Immobilier), ECSN (European Concrete Awards), among many others, and this value is in the form of prizes, such as those recently granted by CTBUH (Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat) or by the American magazine ENR (Engineering News Record), something will be.

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But the greatest praise is always in the form of award, which is fine (you tell to my living room), the greatest of praise always comes in the form of job, as the they did to the person who motivate this post, the simpar Santiago Calatrava, nothing more and nothing less than the design of three bridges in a country which has never worked (so far) , all a present for who know appreciate clear. Huashan is a city near Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, in China, they need to build several bridges that cross the channel of recently built as part of the water system of the Yangtze River.

The company Hubei United Investment Group (HUIG) was responsible for requesting the services of the architect-engineer, in that order because of his career learning, not for another reason (explain). Well, the news is that the bridges have already been designed and are preparing its next construction, its names will be: Xibu, Xianbi and Licong and among the three it will have 1.5 kilometres away, will allow vehicular traffic, it will have lane for bikes and, of course, pedestrian passage between the two areas of the city.

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In the design of the bridges has influenced the fact of its location, in the middle of a city in growing, according to the designer himself: “the architecture is one of the arts that best contribute to the improvement and revitalization of the cities in the double plane artistic and functional. The Huashan project is a clear example of how an urban element, which is key for the prosperous growth of the city, at the same time, improving the quality of life of the citizens, through an approach that allows to integrate the three bridges and the boulevard”.

The challenge of the integrating of three bridges with an urban space in developing has been focused by the design of structures in cable-stayed arch. This system allows the minimum structural expression with maximum light (distance between supports), in addition, the author has proposed three aesthetic and functional different solutions based on parameters similar, all a waste of engineering and its possibilities.

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I like the most Eastern of all the bridges, the Licong, with its two great arches inclined outwards, as if it were a bird in mid-flight. This construction will be 26 meters in height and will connect to the 118-metre-long steel cover. Of its two high arches leave the wires underpinning by means of traction, other two arches with much less height, serving as support (in turn) to cross-beams bridge, a great example of collaboration.

At the other end, on the Western side, is located the bridge Xihu, which, with its single arch inclined to the outside, holding a steel platform with 103 meters in length, its height will be about 20 meters. In the centre, majestic, it will raise the bridge Xianbi, crossing 129 meters above the bottom and thus incorporating two exterior platforms to the support structure, create an empty space quite characteristic inside. Its height is 42.3 meters.

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In the bridges will be integrated ladders and ramps that connect different levels of enjoyment of the canal, and linking to a commercial Street in the northern margin of the Yangtze River, all for the enjoyment of residents of the city and its visitors, like me, that I will not lose the chance to find a new business in those parts of the world. By the way, before dismissing me I leave a brief questionnaire that I led (through one of my many contacts) to the study of Calatrava in Zurich, they were kind enough to answer me, I know that many of you would have made other questions but… I made these. Bye bye.

The Luxonomist.- before reaching the final sketches, were others proposals? Were discarded for reasons of aesthetic, economic or structural viability?

Santiago Calatrava estudy- the design process is an iterative process in which you often have to go back to move forward. Different routes are taken in parallel and only when you reach a certain level of definition can be decided if the taken path is invalid or if on the contrary has ruled out and start over. These “paths of creation” are paved by hundreds and hundreds of sketches, watercolors, and other more technical drawings and three-dimensional displays that you are accepting or discarding depending on whether us or alienate our ultimate goal. Even the current concept phase in which we are now in this project, can suffer numerous alterations until the final project to be built.

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T.L.- Did the company that hired him for the job (HUIG) put any economic or aesthetic limitations?

E.S.C.- Our client is involved in all phases of the design. That is the best way to incorporate into design all the needs raised by the property and be able to adjust the end result to their objectives. This involves not only economic or functional project but also aesthetic and representative aspects. Only collecting the contributions of the client can be a final project according to their needs.

T.L.- Do the works start date?

E.S.C.- It is expected that construction can begin by the end of 2016.

T.L.- I have read somewhere (ABC) as compare this incursion of Calatrava in the East with the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, do you think of this comparison?

E.S.C.- For Santiago Calatrava, every project has its own personality. There are larger or smaller-scale projects, but nonetheless, are more or less important within its own context. The important thing is to help improve the context in which are both since a point of view urban landscape, cultural, etc. In all his projects seeks to draw a line of coherence, in a constant learning process in which each of the works form part of the intellectual or artistic background of the works that precede him, and those that are yet to come.

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