Tapered Landmarks: Valencia, Santiago de Compostela, Glasgow, Seoul


Concept-designed between 1993 and 1995, these landmark buildings share a preference for almond shapes and tapered volumes, and a simplistic belief in the ability of the curve to call attention and raise the symbolic profile of a structure. In the Valencia Congress Centre, the conflict between the lens-shaped perimeter and the fan of the auditoria is constructionally solved, but not architecturally mediated, and the awkward gesture of the canopy is lost in a faceless periphery. The extravagant horizontal flying cigar of Santiago de Compostela’s Telecommunications Facility, far from the dainty elegance of Collserola, is a naif illustration from a sci-fi comic, with the trivial detail of two antennae mimicking the towers of Santiago’s cathedral. Promoted as no less than the symbol of Seoul and Korea, the headquarters for Daewoo monumentalises a vernacular hut with the figurative cheek of American corporate architects working in the Middle or Far East (or of Foster himself in his appalling Al Faisaliah complex at Riyadh), here crowned with the surrealist ashtray of the helicopter pad. And SECC’s exhibition centre at Glasgow compensates its crude execution with a convincing diagrammatic shape that has earned the nickname armadillo and the proud adoption by the city...[+]

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