2. Valencia, Spain: Palau de les Arts Reina SofiaA couple of months ago, my partner Heather and I moved from Toronto, Canada to Valencia, Spain. Or as we like to think of it, from the birthplace of Frank Gehry to the cradle of Santiago Calatrava.
To commemorate our big move, WOWchitecture shines its first spotlight on Valencia's most iconic building, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (Queen Sofia Palace of the Arts):
Others, a hooded cobra preparing to strike:
The front end of a white fish?
Or maybe even an alien robot/spacecraft firing its death ray:
The Palau is just one of a number of buildings making up Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences, an enormous complex of futuristic structures. The Jetsons would feel very much at home here.
But all is not happy in wonderland. For one thing, the roof of the Palau occasionally leaks. When I last saw the building in the summer of 2012, there was bubbling and rippling under the skin. It gets worse. A couple of weeks ago, bits of cladding fell off and yesterday the Palau was closed down through February.
Talk of lawsuits filled the air. Valencia blamed Calatrava for flawed design. Calatrava blamed the city for failed maintenance. The only certainty is that a lot of lawyers are going to make a lot of money before the dust settles. Stay tuned, this one isn't over by a longshot.
UPDATE: May, 25, 2014
Early in 2014, Calatrava and the city of Valencia signed a secret deal to tear down the white tiles covering the Palau and replace them with a different type of cladding. Valencia is big on secret deals - which may explain why so many of its elected officials are in jail or under indictment.
So far, only the first half the deal has been kept. I was down there last week and saw the building stripped down to its naked cement form, partially rusted and covered in patches:
I could have cried; one of my favourite buildings in the entire world reduced to a brutalist nightmare!
The Valencia government still claims that the Palau will be re-clad. But then this is the same Valencia government that stopped construction - at the three-quarters-built mark - on a new, futuristic football stadium. That was five years ago and not as much as a hammer has been picked up since. It's also the same government that threw together a box-like hi-speed rail station, saying that a magnificent one would replace it with two years. That was three years ago.
Stay tuned for further updates.