Ib

The serene and gently curved roof of the Sant Jordi Sports Palace, the main indoor stadium for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, rises gracefully. fitting into the contours of the hill of Montjuic overlooking Barcelona. None of the currently fashionable exhibitionist and techno-philiac design mannerisms showing off the magnitude or might of construction is applied in this building. The 17,000-seat arena is 14.4 metres below the central plaza from where the spectators approach the stadium. Unobtrusive ramps, local stone and regional ceramic materials dominate the area surrounding the complex, contributing, together with the discreet profile, to the quiet transition between the stadium and its environment.

Once inside the building, the character of the project changes dramatically. Vibrant, reflective, overtly high-tech materials take over. The structural members of the space-frame of the roof are exposed and foregrounded by the arrangement. Natural light descends from the huge dome through specially installed skylights in the roof and from the fold-lines between the dome and its supporting pendentive ring. By dividing the roof into a dome and a ring, piercing it to let in sunlight that shoots down the great sports hall, Isozaki uses an architectural device with a tradition as old as St Sophia to create a 'sublime' effect of a structure appearing to float, as if miraculously suspended in space.

Between stadium and service road is a sub-arena, as well as facilities for athletes and officials. For the lighting and ventilation of these inward-looking spaces. Isozaki has employed once more a regional element, the patio. The building is served from a high ring road to the south.

Although the stadium is designed for volleyball, basketball and gymnastics during the Olympics, and can accommodate, with its 200-metre track, indoor field and track sports, it can also be used for other events, such as exhibitions, commercial fairs, conventions and even opera performances, providing multifunctional facilities all the year round.

For all its understated technology, it is here that one of its most important qualities lies. The very process of its construction was, as Ignacio Paricio, professor of engineering in Barcelona, has remarked, a significant learning experience. The dynamic 'pantadome-method' applied in the roof construction consists of five steps: first, parts of the roof and the ring are assembled on the ground independently. using only small cranes. Larger cranes are then introduced to fit together the assembled parts of the roof. During the next stage, a jack placed under the hinges raises the whole roof structure, with the light and acoustic platform suspended from it. This phase com pleted. the jack is removed and the space sealed. What we see is a unique cooperation between architectural and structural conception and production techniques.

The combination of sophistication and self effacement in the use of technology, the integration of a massive structure to a culturally and aesthetically sensitive site and the multi-purpose function of the facility all contri bute to the efficiency, but also the urbanity, of the complex. Such features point to the new kind of architecture emerging at the end of this century, an architecture which maximizes the use of innovative technology with clear, unprecedented benefits, while at the same time minimizing unforeseen, negative impacts-an architecture of high intelligence, an expression of what Paricio calls 'the will to do things well'.

(Above left) Facade of the complex

(Above) Ground plan

(Opposite)

(Top left) Interior corridor

(Left) Stages of the construction - the pantadome method

(Right) Interior of the roof structure

PALAU D'ESPORTS SANT JORDI 253

Santiago Calatrava Vails Architecte-lngenieur S.A. STADELHOFEN RAILWAY STATION

(Zurich, Switzerland) 1985-90

(Above) Ground plan

Left) Plan of underground pass and arcade

(Opposite, right) The platform on the street side of the station

(Opposite, below left) View of crossover bridges from the hillside

(Opposite, above left) Section showing underpass and bridge

(Above) Ground plan

Left) Plan of underground pass and arcade

(Opposite, right) The platform on the street side of the station

(Opposite, below left) View of crossover bridges from the hillside

(Opposite, above left) Section showing underpass and bridge

The return of interest in the construction aspects of architecture in the mid-1980s -with particular focus on the sculptural elements - is very prominent in the work of Santiago Calatrava, whether in his design of furniture or large-scale engineering projects. The most original and intricate architectural composition by Calatrava is the Stadelhofen Railway Station, part of the local rail network.

With remarkable clarity and veracity, the basic scheme of the station emerges out of an interplay between two kinds of constraints: the topology which is determined by the function of the station, expressing movement and its transportation facility, and topographical considerations defining the available paths and obstacles of the site, which is located at the foot of a park-like hill, once the fortified edge of the city. The site is characterized by the coexistence of two adjacent zones - the hill contour and the alluvial plain. Within this landscape contour, the train tracks are laid down, curving gracefully at a radius of 400 metres. The station is 270 metres long. Its covered gallery promenade and cantilevered platform roofs conform to the site's gentle shape.

There are three levels: underground, ground and above ground. The ground level is incised by the train tracks and it is bound back by three light steel bridges crossing the hillside and the plain. An underground shopping complex spreads under the tracks, serving as an underpass.

Bridges and platform roofs dominate the. composition visually. As in most traditional railway stations, the dominant feature of the project is the cantilevered glass and metal roof. Technical considerations, traditional patterns and patterns derived from fractal geo metry are ingeniously combined. This, for example, is manifest in the columns which are triangular in section and spaced at a distance of 6 metres. They branch into a Y-configuration in order to grasp the torsion pipe which, running the entire platform length, stretches out its cantilevered arms to hold up the glass roof. The biomorphic motif of the bridges recurs in the glass and steel platform roof and its supporting light steel structure, and again in the long, arching light steel 'pergolas' sweeping back at 4-metre intervals from the edge of the promenade as one overlooks the tracks from the hill above. The translucent roof held by the 'pergolas' reflects the same motif. Hills, tracks, vine-like and metallic branches, supports, cantilevers and bridges, passing trains, climbing, descending and mingling crowds, all join together into a complex multi level representation of movement, interaction

and vitality. The informal, friendly way in which the urban fabric adjoins the station, the immediate proximity of a park, the repeated elements of the structures, interlinking construction elements in steel, ferrovitreous, reinforced concrete, the weaving of paths, passes and passages - not to mention the ease with which the station can be used - all contribute tothe joie de vivre of the project, reminiscent of the way railway stations were in the last century, before they were replaced in modern times by grim or seedy 'public transportation facilities*. (See also pp. 284-85.)

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