Arquitectura Viva
Monday, September 28, 2020

Arquitectura Viva 117


La Expo del Agua: construcciones sostenibles
XI-XII 2007

Zaragoza 2008. During the summer the capital of Aragón will be the official venue of the International Exposition 2008, articulated around the environmental motto ‘Water and Sustainable Development’. The articles analyze the unavoidable debate on the management of the scarce water resources; the profitable growth of Zaragoza, which has known how to take advantage of this great event to improve its infrastructures, endow itself with new amenities and increase its presence in the global map of cities; and the artistic proposals that will colonize an Expo that hopes to achieve popular and economic success.


José M. Iribas & Manuel Nieto
Celebration of Water
The Planet Recovers Innocence
Adela García- Herrera
Dry Development
Zaragoza and Expo 2008
Javier Montes
Watered-Down Art
An Open Air Collection


Sustainable Strategy. Located by the Ranillas meander, along the banks of the Ebro River, Expo 2008 harbors an architecture that is more concerned with long-term development than with the ephemeral spectacularity of world fairs. A hybrid of footbridge and building constitutes one of the accesses to the precinct and connects with the Congress Center, of jagged and variable profile, in which the use of prefabricated materials allowed building at the demanded speed; by its side, the hollow tower that evokes the qualities of water rises like a territorial landmark. At the other end of the complex, the prismatic volumes of double glazed skin that accommodate the Expo offices stand adjacent to the Aragón Pavilion, a basket lifted on three legs. Finally, the central piece of the International Exposition recalls a ceramic forest.

Cover Story

Hadid & Schumacher
Bridge Pavilion
Nieto & Sobejano
Congress Center
Enrique de Teresa
Water Tower
Basilio Tobías
Expo Building
Olano & Mendo
Aragón Pavilion
Francisco Mangado
Spanish Pavilion

Views and Reviews

Exhibitions and Pavilions. The Aragonese capital has grown gradually thanks to secular commemorations. A brief run-through of the history of the Spanish pavilions leads us all the way to the current Expo.

Art / Culture

José Laborda
Every 100 Years, Zaragoza
Francisco Mangado
A Story of Expectations

Elective Affinities. The Guggenheim of Bilbao shows the ties of Surrealist artists with the world of design; the Tate Modern gathers the cross influences of three Dadaists: Duchamp, Picabia and Man Ray. Juan Antonio Ramírez
Avant-Garde Replaced
Héctor Sanz
Contact Surface
Engineering Order. Fifty years after its first release, the publication of an updated version of Razón y ser by José Antonio Torroja substantiates his essential contribution to engineering and architecture. Focho’s Cartoon
Sauerbruch Hutton
Various Authors
Recent Projects

European Auditoria. An opera, a theater and a concert hall propose new stages for Europe: an iceberg-shaped volume run aground on the shore of a Norwegian fjord; an orange-colored faceted piece livens up a Dutch city built on terrains reclaimed from the sea; and a translucent building takes on a sculptural character in the Alsatian capital.

Technique / Style

Opera, Oslo
Theater, Lelystad
Massimiliano Fuksas
Zénith, Strasbourg

To close, Pedro Zaragoza, the mayor who turned Benidorm into a paradise of mass tourism and an example of urban efficiency, passed away in April. A key player in the city’s design, he defended a festive touristic model, environmental quality and compactness in opposition to suburban sprawl, consolidating his proposal as an ecologically and economically feasible alternative. Products
Windows and Doors
English Summary
Zaragoza 2008
José Miguel Iribas
Learning from Benidorm
Luis Fernández-Galiano

Liquid Zaragoza

AViva-117-lfg.jpg (10184 bytes)An expo is an expo is an expo is an expo. It cannot be judged like conventional construction; its success or failure lie elsewhere. To begin with, an expo is an urban project that transforms a city with exceptional investments justified by the event; the most important things occur outside the site, and its best legacy are the new infrastructures – bridges, highways, stations or airports. Furthermore, an expo is an architectural laboratory that pursues technical and aesthetic innovation rather than consistency ; some permanent and many ephemeral, the assortment of structures puts to the test the feasibility of the site as an urban fragment. Lastly, an expo is a collective debate and a popular party that aims at publicizing major social themes in a playful way; the pavilions are stages of symbolic competition between political or economic actors that propose their priorities to the swarm of visitors. At the threshold of its opening, and in these three chapters, Zaragoza deserves an A- in urban planning, a B+ in architecture and a question mark in entertainment.

As regards infrastructures, the high-speed train, the new airport and the improvement of the roads have stressed the geographic centrality of the city, at the intersection of the Madrid-Barcelona axis with the one between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, at the heart of the wealthier Spain. Moreover, putting most of the pavilions under the same roof has limited innovation, also restricted by the predictable programs of excellent works like the Expo offices or the Congress Center, so the experimental attitude – excluding the small ephemeral structures – is reduced to the Water Tower, the Aragón Pavilion and, above all, to the uncanny Bridge Pavilion and the extraordinary Spanish Pavilion, a ceramic forest that rescues the event. To close, and pending the final evaluation, the motto chosen as guiding thread of exhibitions and events – water and sustainable development – seems a timely one, but it is not sure that its didactic content will be able to provide the entertainment that these temporary amusement parks must always offer.

A century after the Hispanic-French Exhibition, Zaragoza has eluded its historical protagonism in the war started in 1808 to center on a pressing issue, the management of the planet’s resources, focusing on water as suits its paradoxical condition of being both the largest city bathed by Spain’s biggest river and the capital of a dry region, dotted with deserts, where water is regenerationist dream, unredeeming emotion and core of contemporary politics. Leaving to Madrid and the Prado’s Goyas the debate on the nation and its metaphors, indifferent to the renewed polemics between absolutists and liberals, and deaf also to the discussion about whether the war with the French that the British call Peninsular War was one of the revolutions that shook America and Europe circa 1800, Zaragoza celebrates its bicentennial with a liquid fiesta – between two Asian events, Aichi 2005 and Shanghai 2010 –, which brings together the pressures of a globe where millions lack drinking water and the demands of a dry land that has turned water into its physical and sentimental treasure.

Arquitectura Viva 117 - ZARAGOZA 2008
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