Architect Santiago Calatrava Attempts but Fails to Censor Site That Highlights His Blunders

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Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, based in Switzerland, is committed to censoring websites that focus on his failed projects. Just a few days ago, a judge rejected his request to close, a compilation of many of the architect's professional blunders carried out, for the most part, with public funds.

It all began when the group Esquerra Unida de Valencia (EUPV–United Left Party of Valencia) created [, subtitled «Santiago Calatrava – Failed Projects and invoices without VAT» describing various of the architect's designs located in the Valencian Community which have ended up in technical or financial disaster.

Trabajos para eliminar el trencadís del Palacio de las Artes de Valencia. Foto subida a Twitter por Rita Hanna Barbera

Trabajos para eliminar el trencadís del Palacio de las Artes de Valencia. Foto subida a Twitter por Rita Hanna Barbera

For instance, one of the most well-known cases of Calatrava's fiascos is the Palacio de las Artes Reina Sofía, for which the final cost was four times it's initial budget. In late 2013, the trencadis that covered the palace's structure began to detach itself, forcing the Valencian government to completely take it down to avoid any accidents. The total cost of these projects is estimated at about three million euros.

In late January 2014, Calatrava filed a claim against EUPV, alleging that said group «with evident bad faith, has involved Calatrava in a political contention, and for that matter, has managed to bring shame to his good name and professional reputation via the internet and other forms of media.»The architect was demanding 600,000 Euros in damages, as well as the shut down of the website.

As often happens in such cases, Calatrava's fight set off a Streisand effect, generating more than 95,000 hits and half a million visits during the following 24 hours after the claim. Furthermore, #calatravatelaclava, which had already been a world wide trending topic, once again became highly talked about on Twitter:

Even though the prosecutor herself asked that the case be dismissed, the proceedings were carried out on May 15 2014, with a sentence imposing that EUPV compensate the architect 30,000 euros and shut down According with said sentence.

Todo ese conjunto de noticias que se publican en la página web, (…) que si bien puede decirse que en su casi totalidad resultan poco favorables a la labor profesional del arquitecto (…) entendemos estarían, sin embargo, dentro de los límites de la crítica como reflejo o uso del derecho también fundamental de la Libertad de Expresión o/e Información. (…)

(…)  [la expresión «te la clava»] infringe el derecho al honor del Sr. Calatrava con el título de la página y este título es el primer contacto y quizas el único que se transmite al usuario de las redes sociales y de Internet. (…)

All of the news published on the web page, (…) one could say, in its entirety are unfavorable, in regards to the architect's professional work, (…) it is understood that, however, within the limits of the critics as reflection or use of the fundamental rights of the Freedom of expression and/or information. (…)

(…) [the expression «te la clava» or «he screws you»] the title of the page infringes upon the right to bring honor to Calavatra's name, and that title is people's first form of contact and perhaps the only thing that is transmitted through social media and the internet (…)

Bodegas Ysios, otro edifico de Calatrava con graves problemas en la cubierta. Foto subida a Wikimedia Commons por ecemaml

Bodegas Ysios, another one of Calatrava's buildings with major roofing issues. Photograph shared on Wikimedia Commons by ecemaml

As required by the sentence, EUPV closed the website and transferred all of it's contents to another website: (, a «clone» of the previous website, with a different name that does not attack the architect's honor.

Calatrava's legal representatives requested an amendment to the May 15th sentence, claiming that «EUPV be banned from degrading or using Santiago Calatrava's first or last name, and to abstain from the use of other internet domains that contain the same or similar insulting remarks of the text in question.» This time, the judge turned down the request, as will continue to exist.

The EUPV representative, Ignacio Blanco, has announced that his group has appealed the sentence, which in his own words,

ni le gusta a Calatrava ni nos gusta a nosotros, porque entendemos que en el título no hay ninguna intromisión en su derecho al honor sino un ejercicio legítimo del derecho a la información y a la libertad de expresión: a fin de cuentas, con sus pifias y sobrecostes nos ha estado clavando a todos los valencianos durante 20 años.

Calatrava does not like it and neither do we, we believe that the title does not in anyway invade the right of his honor but is a legitimate exercise to the right of information and the freedom of expression: in the end, his major blunders and additional costs have been screwing all Valencian's during the last 20 years.

Although he is recognized world wide for his historic structures, Calatrava's buildings often present problems that have brought the designers before the courts several times. Some examples are: the Palacio de Congresos de Oviedo, for which he has to compensate almost three million euros, the bodegas Ysios in Alava, requiring him to pay two million euros for damages on the roof of the building, or the puente de la Constitución de Venecia, which almost tripled its original cost, and has had more than 5000 claims due to falls on its slippery glass surface, for which the city council has claimed more than one million euro's from the architect.

Puente de la Constitución, en  Venecia. Su resbaladiza superficie ha provocado miles de accidentes. Foto subida a Wikiarquitectura por Map

Puente de la Constitución, in Venice. Its slippery surface has caused thousands of accidents. Photograph shared on Wikiarquitectura by Map

Calatrava, originally from the Valencia Community, has been residing in Switzerland for many years, where he also transferred his investment funds in 2012. That has not stopped him from considering himself a Spanish «patriot,» nor pocketing millions of euros for public works which he has completed for various local governments and other Spanish groups, mostly governed by the Popular Party, for which he makes no secret of his sympathies. It also does not impede him from being ambassador of «Marca España,» an honorary title which he still holds today.

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