Barcelona Pavilion

 Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 7, 08038 Barcelona, Spain - ☏ +34 93 215 10 11 -

Five Euros grants any willing party entree into what may arguably be Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's greatest creation: a beautiful, single story construction of marble, glass, and steel originally conceived as the German national pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition. Disassembled in 1930 but rebuilt on its original site in the early Eighties, the structure is a harmonious mélange of thick stone slabs that evoke feelings of balance and calm.

"Passing through its low-lying architecture feels more like traversing a three-dimensional collage than a building. . ."

The pavilion is primarily a tourist destination now, but perhaps due to its almost spiritual presence, visitors tend to whisper or remain silent as they wander its corridors. This fact, along with the absence of any garish museum placards, which might violate the purity of the original form, has allowed the pavilion to maintain its dignity over time. Passing through its low-lying architecture feels more like traversing a three-dimensional collage than a building: A wall made from an enormous but precise cut of ancient Grecian marble is intersected by a solid pane of glass and is positioned diagonally from a massive slab of golden onyx from the Atlas Mountains, its warm frozen fractals expanding outward toward the center of the structure. The interior is flanked on either side by still and shallow pools, which also act as infinitely beautiful and mutating surfaces, reflecting the day’s clouds overhead. A visit here is the perfect midday activity, but it is important to note that one should avoid the attached gift shop at all costs. This sad little alcove smells like a public restroom and feels as far away from the considered beauty of the pavilion as possible. One afternoon, as a man browsed the commemorative periodicals, he was sprayed in the face by a strawberry-scented air freshener. The chemical mist forced his body into a mimicked position of Georg Kolbe’s bronze sculpture “Alba,” which stands in the corner of one of the pavilion’s pools: frozen in a dance-like gyration with hands extended outward beyond the face. What a strange and inelegant ending to a perfect afternoon. JR

This review is included in TTA7. Click here for more information about the issue.

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