Calatrava Wave in Tenerife
Besides the dramatic wing, another Calatrava "signature" element is a mosaic of trencadis, or broken white ceramics, which cover the structure's entire skin. The 194,000 square feet (18,000 square meters) of trencadis were brought in from Valencia, Spain.
The overhanging wing was prefabricated in Seville and shipped to the island in 17 pieces, the largest weighing 60 tons (54,000 kilograms). They were similar to components more commonly used in bridges. The wing was lifted into place by a specially made crane from Valencia, which has a capacity of 2,400 tons (two million kilograms).
The wing was designed to be supported on only five points. Once in place, it was filled with white concrete made locally from a combination of river sand brought from the Spanish peninsula and the coarser Tenerife sand. In all, 2000 tons (1.8 million kilograms) of concrete went into the building.
During construction, temporary ramparts supported the workers as they fastened triangular sheets of glass onto a hall ceiling. At the height of construction, there were four 150-foot- (45-meter-) high cranes and four 33-foot- (10-meter-) high cranes in operation.
The smaller hall, ideal for chamber music, has seating for an audience of 410; the larger symphonic hall seats 1668. The original design for the symphonic stage was expanded to include 22-square-foot (2-square-meter) modules that are individually movable by a hydraulic system.
The symphony hall has a "variable" acoustic system. Surface materials are solid pressed wood covered with fiberglass. This assembly has "windows" that open and close, exposing either the fiberglass material or the wood, depending on the acoustical requirements of the event. The back walls of the chamber music hall are covered with horizontal wood slats, with fiberglass behind them.
The two performance halls are equipped with air-conditioning outlets below the seats. Cool air comes up from spaces below, eliminating the need for HVAC installations that would disturb the clean lines of the halls. The two halls are separated by a shared, open lobby that creates an acoustical separation so events can be held simultaneously in both.
After the building's official opening in September, 2003, events already scheduled are as diverse as Handel's opera Julius Caesar and the International Water Association Conference. In time, the building itself may become an event, bringing architectural sightseers to Tenerife.
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Lili Eylon is a freelance writer based in Jerusalem and a contributing editor to ArchitectureWeek.