Félix Candela Outeriño: Architect and Artist

Félix Candela Outeriño

When you hear the word concrete, what do you think of? Concrete is the most commonly used human-made material. It is used to build roads, bridges, and buildings. Félix Candela Outeriño used concrete to make unique and graceful buildings. Candela was a Spanish and Mexican architect. Architects design buildings. They make sure that the building is visually appealing, functional, safe, and economical.

Candela was born in Madrid, Spain in 1910. His talent and creativity earned him the attention of famous architects and won him many awards. Following the Spanish Civil War, Candela immigrated to Mexico. He used his knowledge of geometry and drew inspiration from shells in many of his designs. Candela became known for designing beautiful structures made of reinforced concrete. Candela developed a method to make thin shells out of reinforced concrete, known as cascarones. These thin shells allowed for large, open spaces where many people could meet. Some of these shells were only one and a half inches thick! Many of Candela’s buildings look like pieces of art.

The Sports Palace in Mexico City, Mexico

Candela helped design the Sports Palace in Mexico City for the 1968 Olympics. Candela wanted to design a space where everyone could have a clear view of the sporting events played there. He didn’t want to use columns that would obstruct people’s view. Candela’s thin, concrete shells solved the problem. This circular building is not supported by columns inside. The roof is supported by huge arches that cross each other. This building can seat over 20,000 people and is still used today for concerts.

L’Oceanogràfic oceanarium in Valencia, Spain built in 2003

Candela also taught architecture at the University of Mexico and the University of Illinois. Candela’s final project, L’Oceanogràfic, stands in Valencia, Spain. Candela used his famous thin shells to design this graceful open space. He was inspired by aquatic plants. What does L’Oceanogràfic look like to you?

Candela’s work inspired other architects. His innovative designs helped change the way people thought about and used concrete. Many of his buildings look like sculptures and some people say he was an artist as well as an architect.

What Do You Think? What kind of building would you design if you were an architect? What materials would you use?

Photo Credit: (t)Eliot Elisofon/Contributor/Getty Images, (m) Gill_figueroa/Shutterstock, (b)Anastasiia Petrych/Shutterstock