Bilbao City Hall sentenced to pay compensation to Calatrava

Provincial Court of Bizkaia has sentenced City Hall to pay a 30,000 euros compensation to architect Santiago Calatrava for modifying the Zubi-Zuri , by adding a gateway to access Isozaki Towers. The court considered that the “general interest” doesn’t prevail over the “moral right” of the author.

Calatrava demanded 250,000 euros, but if the gateway added by the City Hall wasn’t retired, he demanded 3.000,000 euros. However, the court said although Calatrava’s bridge was indeed modified, it wasn’t affected on it’s track, structure and access. The gateway was not removed, and Calatrava got 30,000 euros.

Cite: Jordana, Sebastian. "Bilbao City Hall sentenced to pay compensation to Calatrava" 15 Mar 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • odris


  • nechezol

    and the gateway is…

  • cmaceachen

    WTF indeed. I had to go searching around for more information on this since the post’s author decided not to include a link to the source and the information given was confusing and incomplete.

    Regardless, it’s a shame that Calatrava got anything out of this stunt. Modifying a public work for which he was already paid does has nothing to do with copyright. This sets a bad precedent. Heaven forbid anyone renovates or modifies any of his work in an effort to make it timely and up-to-date.

  • Frank J.

    cmaceachen: I understood perfectly… what is your problem? And why didn´t you leave a link to the source?

  • cmaceachen

    @Frank J., it’s not my blog, not my job.

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  • Pixelando

    It’s funny.

    Calatrava has more than 20 ilegal copies from Autocad and in his office (BSA have the denounce) and he demands his rights of author. Funny

    I don’t understand why nobody talk about that. Ask BSA about the out of court deal.

  • Richie

    This is all a bit ridiculous. Once the building is built, it belongs to the client, and they can do what they want with it. The architect has to step away at that point, as difficult as it may be to detach ones self from their work.

  • Franco

    shut up odris!

  • Ann

    wtf indeed odris.

    This is a setup for a rocky future.

    It’s ridiculous that I PAY someone to build a structure for ME, and am then ordered to compensate them for changing THIER design because I adjusted the structure to better fit MY needs.

    Just who is employing who here?

  • Thiefsie

    We can’t comment unless we see the client/architect contract, without that we are purely speculating. Copyright is retained by the architect, but this doesn’t fit into that realm. Strange, that’s for sure. Bad precedent? Possibly!

  • zarza

    Under Spanish law, Calatrava DOES have rights to maintain the integrity of his design that may not exist in other countries. It is not about what you or I may ‘think’ an owner’s rights are, it is about the rights under Spanish law, which the Spanish court seems to confirm exist and were violated. I applaud Spain for having the respect for architecture that confers such rights to works of architecture, to recognize that architecture is more than a mere commodity. The Isozaki ‘intervention’ is astonishingly fugly.

  • seefdublew

    Calatrava needs to accept a bit of the dirtiness of the world he builds in: building (and bridges) are built, they age, people change them, they’re ultimately torn down. In the interim, architects don’t have the right to dictate their use or adaptation. When confronted with a situation like this, we can stomp around and threaten lawsuits, and disparage the offending party – or we can use the opportunity to educate on the values of good design. Exactly why does Calatrava object so strenuously to the intervention? Is his protest based on the particulars of Isozaki’s design, the simple violation of the bridge’s singular nature, or just authorship? Education bears more fruit than litigation, and by choosing the latter, Calatrava lost my respect entirely.

    Also, it seems appropriate that we’re discussing Calatrava in this context. Each time I visit one of his works, I get the feeling that he is so occupied with creating mathematically pristine images that he neglects to consider the wonderful messiness of life, human engagement, entropy, or the elements. His designs are so closed as to be intolerant of any “other” – a point to which this conflict is perfect evidence.

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