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BOOK

REVIEW

Calatrava Bridges Thames & Hudson, 2005.

272pp. £15.95 If bridges were just optimal engineering structures spanning from A to B, then the world would be full of straight lines, writes Austin Williams.

Fortunately, engineers have more poetic concerns, and this book presumes to say why Calatrava - possibly the preeminent exponent of the 'art' of bridge-making - does what he does. It turns out, in something of a catch-22, that one of his main aims is to express 'optimality'.

This book succinctly tracks Calatrava's development with great photos, sketches and helpful, if slightly leaden, text.

But, artistic though he is, there are so many 'tilted pylon' motifs, suspended wishbones and brilliant white gull's wings, that I realised his work has become too self-regarding and visually intrusive.

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