Santiago Calatrava and the ‘Power of Faith’: Global Imaginaries in Valencia


The focus of this article is on the importance of collective imaginaries for urban policy mobility, and on the agents and modes of power through which imaginaries are translated, mobilized and become materialized in specific places. Through the case study of the monumental complex of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, designed by Valencian global architect Santiago Calatrava, I discuss Calatrava’s mobilization of ideas of modernity, tradition, democratization and self-esteem already present in the collective imaginary of the people and the politicians of post-Franco’s Spain to promote his global architecture. In this process, I argue, global imaginaries were translated into local imaginaries and vice versa as they became embodied in persons and objects, represented in this case by Calatrava’s figure as a local/global architect and by the architecture of the City of Arts and Sciences. Particularly, I analyse Calatrava’s use of the power of seduction, persuasion and coercion to mobilize such imaginaries in order to build his ubiquitous signature architecture in Valencia.