Barcelona Pavilion

This is a building situated in Barcelona, Spain. It was designed by Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe for the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain and was later used for the official opening of the German section of the exhibition. Due to the several time constraints and the economic situation Mies was facing, he was forced to design the building in less than a year! The pavilion is an important building in the history of modern architecture and modernism. It has inspired many important modernist buildings, including Michael Manser’s Capel Manor House in Kent. It was even referred to as one of the most influential modernist buildings of the 20th century. It was billed to accommodate the official reception presided over by King Alfonso XIII of Spain along with the German authorities.

The building was built from glass, steel, and different kinds of marbles. The materials used by Mies were exotic and of high grade. Stone materials like Tinos VerdeAntico marble, golden onyx, green Alpine ancient green marble from Greece were all used. Tinted and translucent glass was also used. The special Barcelona chair was designed especially for the pavilion consisting of leather upholstered metal. It was redesigned in 1950 using stainless steel, to give it a more suitable and smoother appearance. It has become an icon of modern design over the years that it is still manufactured and sold today. Georg Kolbe’s sculpture is another unique feature found in the pavilion. The sculpture is a bronze reproduction of the piece titled Dawn by Georg Kolbe, a contemporary of Mies van der Rohe. It was placed in the small water basin where it is reflected not only in water but in marble and glass, giving the impression that it is multiplied. The building offers multiple views of the Alba.

As the building was planned to be an exhibition pavilion, it was billed to exist only temporarily. It was brought down in 1930, barely a year after it was completed. It, however, became a reference to modern architect in the mid-twentieth century. Hence, there was, therefore, no surprise when a group of Catalan architects Ignasi de Solà-Morales, CristianCirici and Fernando Ramos were charged with the reconstruction of the Pavilion. Construction started in 1983 using photos and original plans that Meis used for the initial construction, and it ended in 1986. The materials used too were replicated. The new building has since been declared open on its permanent site and is left open to the public every day. I was able to visit the site, and I agree it is one of the best buildings in the world situated in one of greatest cities in the world in terms of architecture, design and urban planning.

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