"For me working in Barcelona was a brilliant moment in my life."
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Barcelona Pavilion was designed by Mies van der Rohe, the father of modernist architecture, as the German National Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition. Demolished after the event, it was painstakingly rebuilt during the 1980s.
Director of the Bauhaus, Mies van der Rohe helped change the whole course of architecture and design in Europe. The Barcelona Pavilion, as it is also known, is an iconic landmark built of steel, glass and four kinds of marble (Roman travertine, green marble from the Alps, ancient green marble from Greece and golden onyx from the Atlas Mountains).
The Pavilion’s importance resides in the ideals of modernism: symmetry, open-plan spaces, precise proportion and minimalist design. The effect is enhanced by Georg Kolbe’s beautiful sculpture, entitled Alba. Reflected in the water of the pool, on the marble surfaces and glass, Alba seems multiplied throughout the space, while the curves and irregularities of the human form contrast with the geometrical purity of the building. The Pavilion also contains examples of the
purpose-designed for the Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe. Its white-leather upholstery and metal frame have made it an icon of modern design.
"Right from the beginning I had a clear idea of what to do with that pavilion. But nothing was fixed yet, it was still a bit hazy. But then when I visited the showrooms of a marble firm at Hamburg, I said: "Tell me, haven't you got something else, something really beautiful?" I thought of that freestanding wall I had, and so they said: "Well, we have a big block of onyx. But that block is sold—to the North German Lloyd." They want to make big vases from it for the dining room in a new steamer. So I said: 'Listen, let me see it, ' and they at once shouted: 'No, no, no, that can't be done, for Heaven's sake you mustn't touch that marvellous piece." But I said: "Just give me a hammer, will you, and I'll show you how we used to do that at home." So reluctantly they brought a hammer, and they were curious whether I would want to chip away a corner. But no, I hit the block hard just once right in the middle, and off came a thin slab the size of my hand. 'Now go and polish it at once so that I can see it." And so we decided to use onyx. We fixed the quantities and brought the stone."
Mies van der Rohe
How to get to the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion.
The Mies van der Rohe or Barcelona Pavilion is close to the Magic Fountain within easy walking distance from Plaça Espanya.
Take the Red or Green metro to Plaça Espanya.
The 13 and 51 buses stop in front of the Pavilion which is just across the road from Caixaforum.
Open every day from 10.00 till 20.00.
Price 4.5 euro
Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia 7
Tel: 93 423 40 16
Don't forget, there's a 20% discount on entry to the Mies van der Rohes Pavilion if you have a
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