Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Night at the Races

I inaugurate my new Canon SLR camera with this photo of Eduardo Torroja's magnificent grandstands for Madrid's racetrack, the Hipodromo de la Zarzuela outside Madrid, one clear, cool July evening last week. The evening races make the most of Madrid's summer climate -- the city is at an altitude of some 860 meters or half a mile above sea level, and the refreshing nights are when you want to be out-of-doors. People come just for the bars and food, but the races were a good adrenaline-booster for this newcomer.

And here's one of the reasons I went out to see them, an exerpt from my upcoming history of Spanish modernism:
"Carlos Arniches and Martín Domínguez opened their work even further to the radical structural experiments of Eduardo Torroja in their 1934 competition-winning design for the Zarzuela Hippodrome outside Madrid. Torroja's innovations in thin-shell concrete during the Republican years claim their place beside the pioneering work of Eugène Freyssinet, Robert Maillart and Pier Luigi Nervi. The Hippodrome design is dominated by his wing-like cantilevered shading vaults over the grandstands, which span nearly 14 meters and taper to a thickness of only five centimeters. The vaults are composed of hyperboloids, surfaces which curve in two directions, and are counterbalanced by an ingenious system that involves suspending the roof vault of the betting hall, situated below the grandstands, from tension bars tied to the rear flanges of the vaults."
 Above, the view from the stands of Madrid's new skyline, with 50-story towers by Henry Cobb, César Pelli, Estudio Rubio Álvarez Sala and Foster & Partners (left to right).

1 comment:

  1. Madrid is indeed a hip city. People are a bit old-fashioned when it comes recreation. Which is good because it breathes freshness about the city.