Spanish High Court rejects Spanish architect's €3m compensation claim for Bilbao bridge extension

The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has been awarded €30,000 euros by the city of Bilbao and two contractors for altering his designs for a signature bridge.  

But the Spanish High Court stopped short of awarding the architect the €3m compensation he had sought, rejecting such an amount as “completely disproportionate.”

Calatrava had sued over an extension to his Zubi Zuri bridge in Bilbao that had been made without his consent. Designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, the extension’s construction had necessitated the removal of railings from Calatrava’s bridge.

The Spanish architect argued that this constituted a violation of the integrity of his work. He demanded either compensation or the demolition of the new extension.

Bilbao had countered that the construction of an extension, a walkway linking the bridge with a nearby tower development, was in the public interest.

The Bilbao civil court rejected Calatrava’s plea for compensation in November 2007, but this latest ruling by the Spanish High Court has recognised the architect’s bridge as an “original work of art” and awarded him a limited amount of compensation.

It is not the only dispute Calatrava has faced in recent years. A new opera house designed for his home city of Valencia flooded following torrential rain in 2007, and the architect became embroiled in a row with city officials over who was responsible for the damage.