Santiago Calatrava, architect, engineer, painter and sculptor, he always tries to transform his structures, from heavy and still objects to gracious and glib. The best way to understand what he stands for is to study a bit on one of his iconic buildings, yes he has many. Auditorio de Tenerife is located in Spain on the Canary Islands. It plays on the site proximity to the sea to produce a volume that resembles braking waves on a stormy sea. This metaphor gives Calatrava the opportunity to show off his capacity to design structures that shouldn’t be able to stand. As you can see the building is composed by two volumes one grounded where the main function of the building is, concert halls, and another superstructure that seems to lightly touch the base as it remains frozen in midair. This combination of elegant structures and original images of his buildings have made him over time one of the most recognized architects alive today. Now you may think that he only cares how the building looks and overlooked everything else, but you would be wrong. Inside, the main function is auditorium. The care with which he designed the interior spaces is second to none. The place doesn’t look just stunning but the architectural systems he used make the concert hall adapt to different acoustic demands. The hall has different acoustic materials, fiberglass or wood that can be exposed in a dynamic system to change the way the space “sounds”. Even the more mundane systems were carefully designed, the air conditioning system is designed under the seats so the shell of the hall could remain clean without the need of standard HVAC systems that would ruin the acoustical qualities of the space. I think this is Calatrava, and you will see it in his other projects, impossible structures, incredible interior spaces, attention to details, unapologetic artistic expression, and of course, for all that, every time over budget.

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Bjarke Ingels  One of the conditions of architecture is that a building has to be able to live in its own right. A building shouldn’t rely on having somebody speak on its behalf. It should speak for itself.”

Now Ingels the founder of BIG is different from Calatrava he tries to integrate his buildings in a specific site without going out of his way and show off some incredible structures or forms. He also doesn’t compromise functionality for them. The project I choose to discuss is a proposal for a New York Skyscraper called “The spiral”. This shows the process that Ingels uses to coagulate his design. New York as a whole is known to have separated the green outdoor spaces and urban spaces. The city is heavily built and at the center it has a massive park. As the current trend of the city is to move away from this harsh separation, the project proposes marrying the two. The volume is a standard parallelepiped common in the city, the other part of the project is the spiral, a green vegetation band that envelops the entire building, giving it the iconic look. Now the band is also inspired from the local site as the New York High line Park passes alongside the structure and Ingles practically took this green park and wrapped it around his building snugly. His spiral park did not only perturbed the façade but also the interior spaces as people from every floor have a small green place to take a break and rest their eyes. In all his projects Bjarke Ingels does this, analyses the site for ideas, integrates, tries to bring nature closer to architecture and uses top technologies to wrap things up.architects that changed the world 1 (10)

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Peter Zumthor is an architect that doesn’t build big buildings, he typically focuses on small but interesting projects. His architecture is more conceptual. It is hard to describe a project without experiencing it as he is very careful to speak to all your senses. The project that gave me goosebumps was Bruder Klaus Field Chapel. This is interesting on all sorts of levels. First the way it was built, he made a huge bonfire with tree trunks but he did not light it just yet, instead he poured concrete over the trunks and let it all dry. After the concrete set and the trunks dried he lit it all up and after it was finished only the smell of charcoal remained. On the ashes, he then poured molten lead and the place was ready as the first rain came down throw the oculus above. If you don’t have a spiritual experience here, I don’t know a better place for that. The second layer is the multitude of senses that the building speaks to. The smell of ash, the rugged touch of the walls, the light and the sense of introversion, it’s like the building has a soul. What Zumthor created here is a place, not a building. This is just one example, he usually tries to bring forth this “assault” upon the senses and make you never leave his places.architects that changed the world 1 (8)

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Daniel Libeskind, architect and professor, gained recognition for his buildings that defy architecture norms and are for the most part extremely visually aggressive. The building to discuss is an extension on the Dresden Military History Museum in Germany. His aggressive style is not usually welcomed by many, but there are instances where this is exactly what is needed. This insertion of an arrow in the classical building of the arsenal is representative of the period 1914-1945 that is exhibited inside the new structure. Just like the two world wars, the building is “hurt” by the addition, the formerly orderly structure and facades are now eviscerated by the new slanted walls. Inside the exhibition the focus is placed on the societal forces and human impulses that generate war in society. Libeskind nailed this one, but at times he overuses this type of architecture, he is too loud and his character overwhelming for more sensible projects. There is also no question that he changed something in architecture and that his projects are memorable.  architects that changed the world 1 (5)

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Glenn Murcutt Is a British architect who usually builds houses. His motto “touch the earth lightly” encapsulates his entire philosophy, his projects are environmentally friendly. The house I want to talk about is Marie Short House. This house is made from two pavilions which divide the house in two, one part for sleeping and the other for living. The structure is made of recovered wood, as most of the material used for construction. The pavilions have a gap between them, which leaves place for a corridor and the room to collect rain water. The orientation of the house is chosen in relation with dominant winds and climatic considerations in general. The building is like an instrument with its double layer façade, one layer for shading and another for ventilation, giving the user a lot of freedom in “playing” it. This is the design process Murcutt always uses, he thinks very carefully about ways to conserve energy, to reuse materials, to use local technics and labor and that which results is architecture. He was one of the pioneer of ecofriendly architecture as the project I talked about is from the 1980s.architects that changed the world 1 (3)

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One can see how different architecture can be and how many facets can be explored, how necessary it is to have diversity in thought not only in architecture but in every field of knowledge. Each one of these architects has strong personalities and no short of critics, even though divergent in their approach, they bring the puzzle of architecture closer to completion.