Calatrava "must pay" to replace
leaking winery roof


Ysios winery, photo by Wojtek Gurak

News: the owners of the Santiago Calatrava-designed Ysios winery in Spain have launched legal action against the Spanish architect demanding he pays part of the £1.7 million needed to fix the building's leaky roof.

The winery in the rainy La Rioja region has continually let in water since it was completed 12 years ago, according to a writ lodged by Domecq, the winemaker that owns the building.

After repeated unsuccessful attempts by the architect's builders to fix the leaks, Domecq now wants Calatrava to put money towards a redesign by a new team of architects and engineers, reports the Guardian.

Ysios Winery, photo by Oscar Berrueta Suberviola

Above: photograph by Oscar Berrueta Suberviola
Top: photograph by Wojtek Gurak

The court action comes less than a year after Calatrava was accused of "bleeding Valencia dry" by allegedly raking in fees of €100 million for the showpiece City of the Arts and Science cultural centre.

We previously featured Calatrava's Liège-Guillemins railway station in Belgium and his Fourth Bridge on the Grand Canal in Venice – see all architecture by Santiago Calatrava.

Other Spanish wineries to appear on Dezeen include a partially submerged sandstone building and a  Corten steel-clad structure by Foster + Partners – see all wineries.

Posted on Thursday April 18th 2013 at 3:15 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Concerned Citizen

    Seems like starchitects just cannot design a roof that keeps water out.

    • kris

      And who the hell are you? People are never short of posting stupid anonymous comments…AH..!!

      • dan

        “Concerned Citizen” is someone with a valid question, anonymous or not. If an architect and builder are paid to the extent these two parties were, the roof shouldn’t leak. I’ve acquired the ability to think critically and not idolize blindly. If it was your money at risk, you’d probably think differently …..AH..!!

        – Dan Richardson

      • Gary Walmsley

        Concerned Citizen’s comment is at least as valid as yours Kris. Aesthetically I’m a huge fan of Calatrava’s work, but it does seem like an disproportionate amount of his work enters into the press for the wrong reason: poor construction. There’s no excuse for that with his fees. I don’t know if the fault lies with his designs or with the engineering firms he’s chosen to work with or substandard materials because of skimming, but this issue is utterly reasonable to bring up.

      • Corky v Luxembourg

        Kris = employee of a starchitect.

  • Khalid

    For those readers who are unaware of the (relatively small) Calatrava bridge and problems it has had.

    It is now open and in use, but the project was VE’ed to save money as it was so over budget, which is a shame.

  • Jec

    There’s a web about all of his fails: In English: Calatrava nails you.

  • On one hand it would be good to see architects taking a bit more responsibility for their elaborate schemes. On the other it would lead to far less experimentation. Mind you, it will be the insurance company that pays out, won’t it?

  • Hotte

    Since this winery was created from scratch by the multinational Pernod Ricard we shouldn’t be too worried about the owners. They have chosen a big name to make big profit. Maybe a local architecture firm would have been the better choice.

  • aleks

    It is a trendy thing now. Crisis is ongoing, there is no money! Clients sue architects in order to gain money they want to reach by manipulation of the market. It is over! As soon as architects understand that a building is a product, it will be better, we will control the whole process and the word ‘client’ will be finally erased – it will become a user or a consumer or whatever. Client is overrated! Architecture is not a service! Nor there is any reason that we should create cheaper, better, more beautiful buildings for anyone for any reason. Think about it my colleagues.

  • bill

    Eek – this Dezeen article sounds like something from BD.

  • Bonnie

    True, but like the case of the Oakland Museum, which for years had buckets catching leaks next to treasures, the building is still worth it.

  • santiago

    Why would they want to be paid in pounds? Last time I checked, Spain uses pesos.

    • fitty

      Check again.

    • Dave

      There are just so many things wrong with that comment!

  • gudruncordula

    It’s not Mr Calatrava’s fault if it rains so much down there in Portugal. Why should he pay if the client does a bad job in maintaining the roof and building? The design looks nice so I reject the idea of Calatrava paying money to the client.

    • fitty

      Not Portugal. Try again. And please, let’s get to the bottom of this: whose fault is it that rain falls at all?

  • Andi

    @santiago That must have been more then ten years ago and even then, it was the Peseta. Currently it is the Euro.

  • jan

    It didn’t rain when it was designed?

  • George

    Architects usually don’t build, they design. If there is a builder involved, the builder is responsible. If there is a design flaw, that’s another story! Will take some time to flush it all out!

    • Brian Dawes

      Was the architect employed as the project manager also who detailed the roof? Did the procurer buy cheap? How many contractors went bust? If it had worked correctly (that is – not leaked) the architect would have taken all the praise.

  • JayCee

    I’m guessing Santiago is an American.

  • JayCee

    Just because a roof leaks doesn’t mean that the building is automatically a failure or that Calatrava is a bad architect. It clearly isn’t. He clearly isn’t. The only reason this story is gaining any traction in the media is beacause the owners want it to. Bad press is a great strategy for settling claims quickly.

  • James

    @aleks Your statement that you want to get rid of the term client and see a building as a product suggests that the client has no input and that they simply get the product they are given. As an architect you are working for them not for yourself, ergo they should always remain the client and architecture is a service. Without a client there would be no building. Also, if you are any good at being an architect then you should have control over your project!

    If this building was built with a fault that leads to the roof leaking then they should go through the original drawings to establish who’s fault it is, and if it did lie with the architect’s design then they should be help accountable.

  • aytak

    An architect’s design is only successful if it is also well detailed. If he is proposing a snazzy roof, then his office (or whoever they farm it out to) will also need to come up with snazzy details to ensure water can run off the snazzy roof effectively. It is the architect’s responsibility to provide the client with a functioning building, that is what they are being paid to do. It’s a bonus if it makes it into the magazines and attracts tourism. A building should ideally keep the rain off your head, this one doesn’t, therefore it is the architect’s problem and he should pay for redesign and reroofing. Simples.

  • mB2

    “They have chosen a big name to make big profit.”

    I’m not sure. I might be wrong, but I vaguely remember a documentary showing Calatrava visiting his client in Spain, showing the (huge, Calatrava-esque) model of the (then) newly designed winery. The response was:

    “It’s really nice, Mr. Calatrava, but we did not want a cathedral, a monument, just merely a good working winery, just a nice but simple, almost industrial building…”

  • What does the builder have to say about this? And more importantly, what exactly is the history of the builder with regards to this type of architecture? I think it’s too easy to blame the architect in this situation.

    If anyone has seen the Spanish Herzog & de Meuron projects and then Swiss/German schemes, it becomes immediately apparent that the architects are not to blame for wildly different build qualities.

  • beatrice

    It would be nice for the article to specify exactly what’s wrong with the roof!

    I have an old Georgian home, if the roof leaks I contact the roofer who did the job, not the architect (if he were alive). Is the design or production wrong? I can’t believe an architect would design a roof with holes in it?

  • This is NOT the architect’s fault. The builder is responsible for keeping the building water tight!

    • Not always. Don’t you believe in bad architectural solutions? (Don’t know if this is the case)