The Barcelona Pavilion of 1928/29

Saturday, 26.09.2015

Following the birth of my youngest daughter Lyra on the 15 May 2008, I was on holiday in Barcelona. This gave me the chance to visit Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Barcelona Pavilion’ of 1928/29.

Damian Brenninkmeyer at the Barcelona Pavilion

Me in front of the Barcelona Pavilion

The pavilion was constructed as part of the German contribution to the 1929 Universal Exhibition in Barcelona. It was dismantled soon after the end of the exhibition. The building I saw is actually a reconstruction that was done by a talented group of Spanish architects between 1983 and 1986.

After WWI, the Weimar Republic wanted to show a new Germany which was culturally progressive, prosperous and peaceful. The building was to be a lyrical self-portrait which Mies visualised through a ‘free plan’ and ‘floating rooms’. Mies used a number of non supporting walls clad in precious stone like Tinos-marble, Vert-Antique marble, Onyx Doré in addition to grey, green, white and translucent glass as spatial dividers. These dividers created a free flowing space and by not using outer walls the inside and outside became merged. The actual support for the roof was provided by a metal steel-frame which Mies first used at the Weissenhofsiedlung.

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The Barcelona Pavilion

Mies placed the walls creating carefully composed views that are a delight to photograph. Walking through the spaces has a rhythmic feel until one reaches the end of the west corridor where one is greeted by a glazed wall with a shallow pool in a courtyard beyond. The translucent wall recalls Mies’s ‘Glass Room’ again first used at the Weissenhofsiedlung and later at Villa Tugendhat of 1929/30 in Brünn.

In the pool a bronze sculpture called ‘Der Morgen’ by Georg Kolbe underlines the lyricism of the building in how she rises from the water and gestures to the sun.

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Georg Kolbe’s ‘Der Morgen’