Oculus – Santiago Calatrava

My favorite parametric architecture is the Oculus, world trade center transportation hub by Santiago Calatrava in New York, USA. It’s a new, permanent facility for Lower Manhattan, located immediately to the east of the original World Trade Center Twin Towers.  

The station is comprised of steel ribs and glass arrayed in a large elliptical shape. The ribs extend to create two canopies over the north and south portions of the plaza.

The rafters spring from two 105 meters arches flanking the project’s central axis. Between the arches, a 100 mt operable skylight frames a slice of the New York sky, and opens on temperate days as well as annually on September 11. I like because the form may be summed up, also according to Santiago Calatrava, by the image of a bird. I also really like the way the light gets in, in fact the architect speaks of light as a structural element in the WTC Transportation Hub, saying that the building is supported by ‘columns of light.’

In terms of parametric keys I think the shape approach could be useful to better understand it, since he may have started with two simple rectangular shapes, modified through the wireframe approach, in order to generate the final form. This last approach allows also the structural system to be effective. As we know Calatrava uses also the mathematics approach to generate new shapes, and he probably did so with this building.

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