Monday, October 7, 2013

Texas has nothing on the size of buildings in Spain

Spain is a passionate, lively country whose residents really bring a great energy to each place I've visited. San Sebastian was a great town, Bilbao was nice, and Barcelona has been lively as well. Sadly, most everything is closed on Sundays, but that didn't change the nice weather and the vibe of the city.

Yeah Catalunya!

In the morning, we walked back to where Wallace's and my hostel was and visited the Barcelona Pavilion, by Mies Van der Rohe. Mies was one of the major players in modernist architecture, and the Barcelona pavilion was a beautiful example of his ideas behind architecture. It was designed and built for the Barcelona International Exposition in 1929 and dismantled in 1930. From 1983-1986, the building was reconstructed on the same site and now stands today. It was never designed to be a house, but a beautiful space where the inside and outside flow together seamlessly.


The ground plane is elevated from the street, and the roof plane sits atop chrome columns and strategically placed stone walls. The inhabitable space is open both visually and physically; nowhere is the space fully closed on all four sides. Glass walls and stone walls work together to create direction and flow in the room. Opposite the covered area is a glassy pool of water and a gift shop.

The statue is oriented in such a way that she sun shines very particularly on it. I like to think her hand is held up to block the light from her eyes

Architecture students everywhere

The load bearing walls are made of semi previous stone that has been so particularly matched and oriented. I'm pretty sure the green walls are jade

Normally, these very simple very modern buildings don't impress me very much. But there was something enchanting about this place. Every single wall and column was placed knowing how the sun would shine on the building, what views you could see from where, and ensuring that the reflection of the water would make the ceiling plane dance. It was beautiful in its simplicity, it was poetic, it was unobtrusive, and it was welcoming.

You could see very easily through the pavilion, the layers of glass framed the view to the outside very well

The roof plane!

Oh the topic of gift shops being everywhere- I don't really like it. In every single famous building we've seen (and in National Parks and monuments and literally everywhere) there has been a gift shop. I understand it for National Parks and I actually love it, I've got a couple t-shirts from Zion and Olympic that I wear all the time because of the memories I have there. But with architecture, I don't know. Architecture is about thought and expression and beauty and chaos all being resolved into a physically inhabitable space. It solves questions that people don't even actively think about and has the ability to shape your experience in a space. It seems cheapened almost by the fact that I can buy a tshirt with the Barcelona Pavilion on it, or a mug and a bendy ruler from La Sagrada Familia. They are just objects manufactured for commercialism and for tourists, but they are also reminders of the memories you have at a place. That's why I'm sketching so much on this trip- my souvenirs are more personal and I don't have to fill my suitcase up with magnets and t-shirts and mugs. (I am sad though that I couldn't get a stein for my momma in Germany... sorry Mom, you asked after I'd left the country!)

We all split apart at 11 with directions to meet up at La Sagrada Familia at 12:45 A group of us decided to visit the Mercado de Santa Catalina, a great market with an undulating roof. The roof is covered in colored tiles and glitters in the sun. Sadly, that's when we learned that EVERYTHING IS CLOSED ON SUNDAYS in Spain. Oh well.

So happy and colorful :)

Everything except churches, that is! Our visit to La Sagrada Familia was amazing. I haven't studied Antonio Gaudi much, but I have liked what I've seen. But this church blew me away. The basilica was finished in 2010, so all of the construction is now on the exterior. We had a nice little audio tour of the building.

The cathedral is built in the Gothic style, though it won't look like any Gothic church you've seen before. The main examples are in the height of the basilica and the spires on top. There are 8 spires completed, with plans for (I think) 14 more. But the arches inside are hyperbolic instead of vaulted, so there is more stability with less obstruction. There were some very interesting models in the church explaining how many of the shapes of the structural members were inspired by nature- the way a tree can lean but the roots anchor it to the ground, the spiral shape of a seashell, etc.

What verticality! What columns!

Pikachu liked it


The colors in the church were magnificent. The stained glass windows created such wonderful light, and the spires are all topped with little caps made with a Venetian glass mosaic. We had the opportunity to travel up to the top of a spire and then walk all the way down- it was scary high and really cool at the same time.


Jen, Gene, and John! John's trying really hard not to freak out in this photo, he's afraid of heights

And with good reason, these spires are TALL.

But the view is nice!

A model explaining the leaning columns, and Gaudi's model of the structure of the building. He used sandbags to understand how to construct the vaulted ceiling.

Our day ended early, but everything is closed on Sundays, so there wasn't much to do after that...

But Monday was full of things to do! We all met at 8:30 to head over to the Science Museum, by Herzog & deMuron. It was a very large blue building. It looked like a blue box that hovered in the air, supported by thick columns and glass rooms. The coolest part though were the occuli. Imagine taking a square apple corer and piercing the building with it, twisting the corer as you push down. You do this on the edges, in the center, everywhere. You're left with some really cool openings in the building.

The exterior is made of blue spray on concrete

The ceiling is made of a shiny metal surface, with some textured blobs and some shiny blobs. It looks like water

One of the openings on the side of the building

Looking up!

Everything feels like you're underwater

Next, Hanna, Rebecca and I walked along the Mediterranean to find Frank Gehry's fish statue. I was picturing something else entirely in my mind when I saw it, but it was still neat to see. From the side it looks like a fish, but from the front it looks like a flying nun hat.


Giant fish! It's located by the Olympic housing towers

See? Flying nun hat

I got some smoked salmon and bread and an avocado from the grocery store and made a yummy sandwich for lunch, then met up with the group at 2 for more architecture. We headed way out of town to visit Ricardo Bofill's office, El Taller de Arquitectura. It was an incredible office- it was built in the 70s from an old concrete factory. The offices themselves are in the clusters of silos, while the meeting room is in the old distribution bay or something. It was a beautiful office with ivy and plants climbing all over the outside. I thought it looked like a romantic ruin, like if we were 200 years in the future and this concrete thing from the 70s had been eaten by the plants around it.

Concrete silos

The meeting room was beautiful, the warm light reflected off of the concrete so nicely

One of the office floors

A cluster of six silos makes up the offices- four are for a group office, one is a private office, and one is a stairwell. The stairwell has no ceiling and goes all the way up to the roof

Then we went over to Walden 7, a social housing project. It was 14 stories tall and MASSIVE and crazy. The building is symetrical, with 4 identical quarters and I think over 500 apartments in the building. I'll let the photos do the talking here.

Beautifully massive. The round tubes are all balconies

The atrium, and a view down from above

And they have a rooftop swimming pool!

Then we looked at sketchbooks and headed home. I got off the tram early and walked around looking for a bottle shop (unsuccessfully) and made it home before it got super dark. YAY ME.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I liked the intricacy of the cathedral and its views, the flying fish was a bit funky looking for me too, and I really liked the rooftop pool! Now that I paid for my trip to Barcelona, it's safe to say I'm getting more excited to go and your pictures have assured me it's going to be one awesome city. :)