Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  77 minutes
Date:  2004
Genre:  Expository
Language:  German / English subtitles
Grade level: 9-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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Santiago Calatrava's Travels

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A fascinating portrait of world famous artist, engineer, architect and urban studies scholar Santiago Calatrava, and an interdisciplinary reflection on the perception and impact of architecture.

Santiago Calatrava's Travels

Widely recognized as the greatest living designer of transportation structures like airports and train stations, award-winning, world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava came to international prominence at an early stage in his career. His popular yet controversial creations can now be found all over the globe, and his stunning proposal recently won the commission for the new transportation hub at the rebuilt World Trade Center in New York City.

Accompanying Calatrava to various work sites we begin to understand the problems someone in his position encounters and get to know him during his hectic work schedule. In unexpected quiet moments (on an airplane, in a hotel lobby, sitting at a bar) he paints or draws, dedicating the rare moments of serenity to his work as well. Some of the films most powerful moments include his comments on the creative process and visual thought.

A specialist at sculptural works, what distinguishes Calatrava from other celebrity architects is his talent and skill as a construction engineer. We visit construction sites, railway stations, bridges, concert halls, airports... Through the images and sounds of the documentary, space, function, form and atmosphere are conveyed. The forms are extraordinary: dynamic, frozen movements - buildings that evoke nature. In these forms SANTIAGO CALATRAVA'S TRAVELS searches for a visual framework of remembrance, opening the door to Calatrava's associations or references in architectural and art history.

The result is a tour of his oeuvre and an encounter with extraordinary shapes; dynamic equipoise, forms that hearken to waves, trees, wind, rock, wings, the natural world.

'Calatrava [is] a Spanish genius of Parnassian accomplishments. Famously trained in two disciplines: architecture and engineering... They represent two forms of learning... Reason and intuition. Rather than fusing architecture and engineering, the designs arise from the struggle between them. Calatrava's work is invariably transcendent'-Herbert Muschamp, Head Architecture Critic, The New York Times

'With rare effectiveness, the film makes actual characters of the typical frustrations and rewards that come with the profession of architecture so that we can observe, firsthand, Calatravas architectural methods both at a construction site as well as at his desk. What is more valuable, however, is that we are also treated to well articulated and illustrated conversations with the artist that enable us to understand his creative thought process and to arrive at a clear comprehension of his work, an understanding of it not just as a progression of engineered developments and transformations, but also of how its elements work together conceptually and esthetically as an orchestrated work of art.'-Ballast Quarterly Reviews

'Exhilirating!'-Weltwoche (Switzerland)

'A splendid film! There are many breathtaking shots of the buildings set against gloriously coloured sunsets and natural backdrops; the photography enhances the dynamic yet graceful form of Calatrava's structures. The film portrays a subtle juxtaposition of the quiet, almost spiritual qualities of Calatrava working in the studio with his frenetic pace of flying from one country to another to attend meetings, solve on site problems, and meet new sponsors to explain his design concepts. The latter point is an absolutely essential, though often tedious and frustrating aspect of an architect's existence. Wonderfully informative... with excellent photography and music, I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in art, design, and architecture. I would further add, essential viewing for all architectural and building construction students.'-Leonardo: The Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology

'An exquisite, beautifully photographed insight into the thoughts, working methods, and most important works of the well-known engineer architect. A fascinating visual delight.'-Neue Zurcher Zeitung (Switzerland)

'Brilliant! A supremely clever contribution to architecture, to possibilities and risks, and to the environment.'-TR7 (Germany)

'A wonderful voyage into the world of architecture. Not to be missed!'-P.S. (Germany)

'Recommended! Effectively draws the viewer into the fast-paced world and the creative, articulate mind of the architect. Even the film's more contemplative moments capture the energy that drives the man and informs his work. The travelogue format is particularly fitting since many of Calatrava's buildings are transit centers in which movement is both design metaphor and relentless day-to-day reality. The film makes accessible a timeless art in the hands of a modern master.'-Educational Media Reviews Online


Main credits

Schaub, Christoph (Director)
Hoehn, Marcel (Producer)
Mueller, Hanspeter (Narrator)
Kali, Matthias (Film editor)
Liechli, Fee (Film editor)
Fueter, Daniel (Composer)

Other credits

Camera, Matthias Kali; editor,Fee Liechli; music, Daniel Fueter.

Distributor credits

A Film by Christoph Schaub

Docuseek2 subjects

History of Architecture
Science and Technology
Urban Studies

Distributor subjects

Business and Economics
Science and Technology
Urban Studies


Architects; Architect; Santiago Calatrava; designer; Calatrava; engineer; airports; artist; urban planner; city design; airport design; train stations; PATH station; World Trade Center; transportation; Olympic Sports Complex; Tenerife Opera House; film; video; documentary; DVD; "Santiago Calatrava's Travels"; Icarus Films;

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