Lyon-Saint Exupery Airport Railway Station

Just looking at the exterior shapes, what do you think about the Lyon Airport Station?

The Exterior Views- two converging steel arches 120 meters long and 40 meters high.


………… Are you thinking about “Birds”?  Because the strong V-shaped concrete abutment at the front entrance, people usually think about the bird’s wing; because the dramatic angling by looking from side, people think about the bird’s beak or landing birds.

But, not even about wings or beak or landing action. Calatrava said “I never thought of a bird, more of the research that I am sometimes pretentious enough call sculpture”, which he’s inspired more by human body- human eyes”.

His inspiration- Human eyes

In this sketches not only show his interest in overall form and shape, it also shows the problem of solar heat gain through the structure.
Compare his sketches and actual building, they are almost identical in terms of both form and engineering.

The Lyon-Saint Exupery Airport Railway Station, also known as the Lyon Satolas Staion. The station is located in Satolas, France, built in 1984-1994. Calatrava received the commission through a competition (provide smooth passenger flow while creating an exciting and symbolic “gateway to the region”) organized by the Rhone-Alpes Region and Lyon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIL). The station was designed for the French National railway company (SNCF) serving to connet the high-speed train network (TGV) to the Lyons Airport at Satolas.

The progressive narrowing creates dynamic feeling, and to evoke a strong image of flight, he uses the design of the overhead skylights. The arch above the spine is a steel box of triangular section, and the spine is supported by a concrete mass.

This dynamic shape of the skylights brings the natural lights to enhance the interior space. Calatrava channels and informs crowds with rhythmic repetition through the configuration of the building, which he wants to substitute for using signs within an undistinguished enclosure.

I think the Lyons Airport Railway Station project is surely one of Calatrava’s best-known works. The station caught my attention when I was looking at his complete works. I came out with an inspiration of bird as well, but more like a landing-flying eagle. Furthermore, when I looked at night views of the Lyons Airport Station, I thought about “Batman” too, maybe it’s the colour he used for exterior/interior, or maybe it’s the form of the building. The exterior and interior looking gives me dynamic feeling, he designed with several strong elements and principle into the project- Symmetrical balance of the V-Shaped abutment, Rhythm of the ceiling crowds, and the line of the roof. And I think this is really important to me to learn more about using principles and elements into my design works.

Night Views of the Lyons Airport Railway Station




  • Jodidio, Philip, and Santiago Calatrava. Calatrava: Santiago Calatrava, Complete Works, 1979-2009. Hong Kong: Taschen, 2009. Print.
  • Tzonis, Alexander. Santiago Calatrava: The Complete Works. New York: Rizzoli, 2004. Print.
  • Tzonis, Alexander, and Santiago Calatrava. Santiago Calatrava: The Poetics of Movement. New York: Universe, 1999. Print.
  • Glynn, Simon. “Lyon-Satolas Airport Railway Station by Santiago Calatrava.” Lyon-Satolas Airport Railway Station by Santiago Calatrava. Galinsky, 2004. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <
  • “Santiago Calatrava – Lyon-Satolas TGV Station::” Santiago Calatrava – Lyon-Satolas TGV Station::, 6 Jan. 2003. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <;.










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