Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Three Favorite Buildings

2. The German Pavilion

The Barcelona Pavilion was designed by world-famous architect Mies van der Rohe as the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition.
It was an important building in the history of modern architecture known for its simple form and extravagant materials, such as marble, travertine as well as tinted glass of grey, green, white, as well as translucent glass, perform exclusively as spatial dividers.
The pavilion was going to be bare—no trade exhibits—just the structure, a single sculpture and purpose-designed furniture (the Barcelona Chair). This lack of accommodation enabled Mies to treat the Pavilion as a continuous space; blurring inside and outside.
Since the pavilion lacked a real exhibition space, the building itself was to become the exhibit. The pavilion was designed to "block" any passage through the site, rather, one would have to go through the building. Visitors would enter by going up a few stairs, and due to the slightly sloped site, would leave at ground level in the direction of the "Spanish Village". The visitors were not meant to be led in a straight line through the building, but to take continuous turnabouts. The walls not only created space, but also directed visitor's movements. This was achieved by wall surfaces being displaced against each other, running past each other, and creating a space that became narrower or wider.

Despite its apparently simple rectangular plan, there are almost no corners in the building, or anything that might suggest you are in a box. The generous canopy roof, walls that stop well short of abutting one another, and the floor-to-ceiling glazing break down the distinction between inside and outside. Even the doors are in the form of two halves of an all-glass wall, which rotate not about hinges at their edges, but about a pivot in the floor and ceiling a few inches from the edge: the result is that when opened through ninety degrees each door becomes just another freestanding, parallel glass plane in keeping with the other planes defining the spaces in the building.

The original 1929 pavilion building, despite its enormous influence on the emerging International Style of architecture, was demolished the year after the International Exhibition. However, thanks to black and white photos and original plans, a group of Spanish architects reconstructed the pavilion permanently between 1983 and 1986

The Pavilion was not only a pioneer for construction forms with a fresh, disciplined understanding of space, but also
for modeling new opportunities for an exciting association of free art and architecture.

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