As if by some architectural destiny, our course through Spain took us almost directly from one piece of great white dominance in Aviles to another in Oviedo. Niemeyer’s Centro and Calatrava’s Palacio de Congresos are both laughably dazzling, imposing and modern… and white. The difference is that Calatrava got it all right.
It’s a building, monument, bridge, Escher sketch and piece of alien tech rolled into one. The pristine spans look poised to reconfigure into a craft that could destroy the whole city with a laser beam.
I feel like it was gently humming. It’s as if the city is host to some sentient but currently dormant device. Palacio de Congresos waits while we use the lower levels as a high-end shopping centre and thorax as an auditorium. Win-win.
There’s not a single vanilla aspect. Every perspective presents a new photogenic layer of ribs and fins. Protruding upwards, the Congressional offices are suspended bridge-like by impossibly pristine supports. The result is a structure that looks imposing from afar and more sympathetic to the surrounds at close quarters.
I love it. I want to walk around it a few more times. I want to be there when it pivots upwards, unfolds into a massive spacerobotspider and inhales Oviedo high street.
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An Asturian hamlet on the peak of the Picos de Europa mountains with some fresh air and curiously original architecture.