Endless Inspiration: The Barcelona Pavilion                                                          

The Barcelona Pavilion

I have worshiped at the altar of this wonderful building for many years, it was a turning point in my design education. Mies van der Rohe is an icon of modern architecture, in my opinion one of the big three - Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies.

The Barcelona Pavilion was designed by Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as the German National Pavilion for the Barcelona International Exhibition 1929, held on Montjuïc, a hillside suburb of Barcelona.

image via miesbcn.com

Built from glass, steel and four different kinds of stone/marble, the Pavilion was designed to accommodate the official reception presided over by King Alfonso XIII of Spain along with the German authorities.
floor plan of the pavilion, hatched lines are the reflective pools.image thanks to content answers

After the closure of the Exhibition, the Pavilion was disassembled in 1930. As time went on the cutting edge nature of the construction, a roof that was held up by columns not walls, allowing the walls to float in the space and the significance as Mies an architectural visionary, lead to thoughts of recreating the pavilion. Building works began in 1983 and in 1986 the building was opened on its original site.

No first trip to Barcelona for me would be complete without a design pilgrimage to this epic, jaw droppingly beautiful building. It's hard to describe the excitement and butterflies you get when you finally get to see a building that for so long you have idolised.

The crisp clean lines of the pavilion create a calm contemplative atmosphere
Growing up on the other side of the world (New Zealand) where all the 'important' architecture you study is so far away, the reality that you are actually seeing these places is like a dream. I visited the pavilion in October 2007, these are my photographs.

The elegance and simplicity of the chromium columns

Mies was famously quoted as saying 'God is in the details' 
The slightly green tint of the glass picks up the richness of the marble and is beautifully offset by the chrome window surrounds

The alpine marble in all its glory,
proving minimalism need not being boring or without pattern
Mies created such wonderful vistas in a small space,
looking through to the dancer sculpture

The fluid movement of the dancer echoes the organic nature of the marble

Georg Kolbe’s sculpture
The sculpture in the reconstructed Barcelona Pavilion is a bronze reproduction of the original piece entitled Dawn (otherwise known as The Dancer) by Georg Kolbe. Brilliantly placed at one end of the small 'interior' pool, the sculpture is reflected not only in the water but also in the marble and glass, its curves and fluidity of movement contrast with the clean lines and purity of the building perfectly.

The 'interior' reflective pool acts like a mirror, capturing the sky

The indoor and outdoor spaces dissolve
Layers of reflection

The famous and much copied 'Barcelona Chair' was conceived by Mies as a modern day throne, unfortunately King Alfonso XIII of Spain did not sit in the chair during the opening ceremony.

The power of natural materials - beautiful golden onyx

Pattern on pattern

Changes in texture are one of the keys to this buildings success

If you love modernist architecture you might also enjoy the following posts:

The Glass House - Architect Philip Johnson

Guggenhiem Museum in New York - Architect Frank Lloyd Wright

The Farnsworth House - Architect Mies van der Rohe

The private retreat of architect - Jim Jenning (similar in feel to the Barcelona Pavilion)

Mid-Century Architecture of Richard Neutra

The Beach House and the Grotta House - Architect Richard Meier

The Interiors of Minimalist Architect - John Pawson

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