Santiago Calatrava’s

Tenerife Opera House

Emily Rahn

Tenerife Opera House
• Santiago Calatrava’s first design for a performing arts center was in Santa Cruz.1 The building was finished for its opening in September of 2003. Not only was this to be a great auditorium for music and other events but the Opera House was to be a monumental landmark.2

Tenerife Opera House
• The Tenerife Opera House is built on a site one hundred and fifty four meters by one hundred meters with a sixtymeter change in grade. The building itself occupies the entire site with a stepped plaza to compensate for the slope of the site.3

Tenerife Opera House: Exterior
• The plaza area is made of a dark stone to contrast with the exterior of the building which is a white concrete made from the local sands of the region. Embedded in the concrete is trencadis, broken white ceramic tiles. These pieces reflect the light especially moonlight causing the building to shimmer, similar to the water that is close to the building.4

Tenerife Opera House
• • • The structure of the building is predominately reinforced concrete. There are some pre-stressed members used as well. Very few metal pieces were used in construction, for instance the mullions in the large window areas.5

Tenerife Opera House
• The semi-basement of the building houses technical areas, general services, changing rooms, and small auditorium. The main core of the building is located in the large dome. This is where the main auditorium is, holding 1600 people. There are also intermediate levels for the press and more technical areas.6

Tenerife Opera House

Santiago Calatrava states that he got the idea for the dome from Mount Teide, the volcano and largest mountain in the islands.7

Tenerife Opera House

On either side of the dome are two concrete visors where the entrances to the building are located.8

Tenerife Opera House
• The main distinctive feature of the building is the 70-meter high 3500-ton concrete canopy.
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This over roof starts at a triangular base on the southern end of the auditorium and arches over the main core of the building. As it does this its width and thickness diminish. The canopy provides protection from rain and sun to the rest of the structure.10

Tenerife Opera House
• The canopy was prefabricated and shipped to the site in more then a dozen pieces, and required a special crane to lift them all in to place.11 Calatrava has compared this element to a wave, shell, and a seabird’s wing. This is similar to other works of his, which are inspired by natural, organic forms.12

Tenerife Opera House
• • The canopy has brought up a lot of questions about is it really needed, since it shows “no practical purpose other then purely structural”. 13 But when making a monumental building is it really necessary for every piece to have a purpose other then giving an overall dramatic effect. Or can the building be thought of as an “echo (to) his sculptural tendency to embody movement, elasticity, and human and organic form”.14 “Technological advances and a large budget have helped further the ambitious character of this project.” So when the budget is no so restricted an element can be add for pure aesthetic rather then practicality.15

Tenerife Opera House: Interior
• The main areas are all done in plaster, while other areas are solid pressed wood covered with fiberglass.15 The main auditorium has timber cladding to cover the concrete structure to make for better acoustical quality of the space. Some of these areas of wood and fiberglass can be moved around to make for better acoustics for different settings.
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Tenerife Opera House
• • • In the case of the opera house form was just as if not more important then function. Calatrava used his sculptural background as inspiration for this monumental building. The seemingly weightless concrete structure grabs the attention of the public as well as serving the community as a great auditorium.17

Footnotes
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. www.architectureweek.com Architecture Monographs No. 46: Santiago Calatravo page 59 Architecture Monographs No. 46: Santiago Calatravo page 59 Time: Great Buildings of the World - The Worlds Most Influential, Inspiring and Astonishing Structures. Page 14 Architecture Monographs No. 46: Santiago Calatravo page 59 Architecture Monographs No. 46: Santiago Calatravo page 59 Time: Great Buildings of the World - The Worlds Most Influential, Inspiring and Astonishing Structures. Page 14 Architecture Monographs No. 46: Santiago Calatravo page 59 Time: Great Buildings of the World - The Worlds Most Influential, Inspiring and Astonishing Structures. Page 14

Footnotes
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Architecture Monographs No. 46: Santiago Calatravo page 59 www.archpedia.com Time: Great Buildings of the World - The Worlds Most Influential, Inspiring and Astonishing Structures. Page 14 www.archpedia.com Calatrava Wins the Gold: Architectural Record. Page 164 Calatrava Wins the Gold: Architectural Record. Page 164 Architecture Monographs No. 46: Santiago Calatravo page 59 Architecture Monographs No. 46: Santiago Calatravo page 59

Bibliography
Eylon, Lili. Calatrava Wave in Tenerife. Architecture Week: Building Department. http:// www.architectureweek.com/2003/0903/building_1-1.html Projects of Interest. http://www.archpedia.com/Porjects-Santiago-Caltrava_02.html. Archpedia.com, 1999-2005. Sharp, Dennis. Architecture Monographs No 46 Santiago Calatrava. Academy Editions: London, 1996. Time: Great Buildings of the World- The World’s Most Influential, Inspiring, and Astonishing Structures. Ed. Knauer, Kelly. Time Books: New York, 2004. Tzonis, Alexander. Calatrava Wins the Gold. Archtitectural Record. Ed. Ivy, Robert. McGraw-Hill Companies: May, 2005. 162-173.

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