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Renzo Piano, an Architect for Santander

Celebrity architect Renzo Piano built the “Centro Botín“ in Santander. The pleasantly calm documentary by Carlos Saura gives enlightening insights behind the curtains of a big construction project.


One of the most beautiful pieces of dialogue in the doc: “The building has to fly!“ „But it weighs 20,000 tons!“ “It‘s okay, we‘ll make it fly!“ The building this revolves around, which opened in the summer of 2017 in Santander, the capital of Cantabria region in the north Iberian peninsula, doesn‘t fly. But it does float somehow, like a broken shell, between the elements. Between ground, water, and air. The “Centro Botín“ was developed by star architect Renzo Piano, the Genoese architect behind such renowned buildings as the Pariasian Centre Pompidou, the New York Times Tower, and The Shard in London. The pleasantly relaxed documentary that‘s barely over an hour isn‘t really about the finished cultural center, it‘s more about the process of its formation. Director Carlos Saura allows for enlightening looks behind the scenes of a big building project – the facade of Centro Botín alone has 300,000 ceramic tiles. One meeting follows the next. A meeting with the mayor here, a gathering with partially upset, partially enthusiastic residents there. The camera keeps hovering over the construction site. The critics say “the Santander harbour is being divided into two halves!“ The documentary thankfully does without the obligatory talky voice-over commentary which are often present in similar documentaries. The film works wonderfully as a homage to the process and the efforts made. “The magic,“ according to Piano “takes place in the construction site.“ A nice, frictionless thought that can be applicable for other art forms. All in all the slightly self-satisfied explanations of the master are a bit annoying. At the end Renzo Piano even asserts that “this kind of beauty can save the world.“

Matthias von Viereck

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Renzo Piano, an Architect for Santander
Spanien 2018, 70 min
Genre: Documentary
Director: Carlos Saura
Author: Carlos Saura, Renzo Piano
DOP: Raúl Bartolomé
Distributor: Mindjazz Pictures
Cast: Renzo Piano, Carlos Saura
Release: 04.04.2019




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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