Right of integrity over bridge fails

The IPKat is intrigued by a story sent to him by Mariona Baldo (thanks Mariona!) concerning copyright in a Spanish bridge. Architect Santiago Calatrava unsuccessfully sued the city council of Bilbao and two construction firms after they added a footbridge to a bridge over the River Ria that he designed. Although the judge found "There has been an appreciable alteration of the work…which changes its unmistakable personality…it has ceased to be a self-contained work,” he ultimately found that there had been no violation of Calatrava’s right to integrity because the public interest required an addition to the bridge to allow pedestrians to traverse sufficiently freely. Said the judge:

"The alteration has occurred; but the right to the integrity of the work is not violated, the author being obliged to bear it in the interest of the public served by the bridge."

This is Spain’s first case about the right of integrity concerning engineering works.

The IPKat is glad that common sense has prevailed here. It would make life extremely difficult if architects could object to alterations to buildings which others have commissioned from them, and would enable them to control other people’s ‘real property’. More fundamentally, the IPKat questions the wisdom of granting a right of integrity over works of architecture in the first place. This wouldn’t be such a problem in the UK since an architect’s right of integrity only gives him the right to have his name removed from buildings which have been altered in a way which is derogatory to his reputation.

Right of integrity over bridge fails Right of integrity over bridge fails Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, December 04, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. This has been a great problem with the Olympic Stadium in Munich - the stadium wasn't ideal for football matches but the architects refused to allow alterations. As a result the Allianz arena was built and the Olympic Stadium stands empty, gently rotting away, apart from the odd concert and athletics event.

  2. Thanks to the IPKat's distinguished friend José Julián Izquierdo Peris I am in possession of a copy of the full 38-page transcript of this decision, in Spanish. Anyone who would like to see it should email me at jjip@btinternet.com and I'll forward it.

  3. As I remember last year common sense did not prevail in Germany, the overdebted Berlin modified the building of the main train station which was under construction (with the view of cost reduction) and as a result the court ordered to Berlin to reconstruct the train station according to former plans of the architect.

  4. The result is consistent with an amusing Canadian decision 25 years ago, where an engineer could not use his moral rights to prevent a telecommunications tower he had negligently designed from being braced, to prevent it falling down on whomever was around: New Brunswick Telephone v. John Maryon Int’l Ltd(1982) 141 DLR(3d)193. Public safety can trump moral rights, it appears.


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