The Campo Volantin Bridge ‘Zubizuri’, Bilbao, Northern Spain by Calatrava.

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As with most of Santiago Calatrava’s works, the main materials are concrete and white steel, hence the name Zubizuri Bridge or White Bridge. It spans the Nervion river in a delicate curvy equilibrium. The bridge features a glass walkway – a device used again in his James Joyce Bridge in Dublin. Although a ferce debate has arisen regarding an extension by Arata Isozaki. The Japanese architect designed an extension to the 10-year-old footbridge to connect with his recently completed riverside housing development nearby. The court case has prompted discussion 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.

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