#Lecture 5: 1916 – 1924

Barcelona Pavilion, 1929

This was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe whom I studied briefely last year as part of my History and Theory presentation.  This work always gives me great enthusiam!  As a designer and with many of his works, I became utterly inspired.  What really shocks me is how in such an early stage of the century design could be so modern.  I find it extremely interesting to compare it to Skyhouse, designed by Graham Phillips in Buckinghamshire.  Seeing the strong links just shows that Mies’ work and created features is what lends itself to us today!

Barcelona Pavilion was an important building in the history of modern architecture and is an iconic example of simple form and extravagant materials.   Originally it was the German Pavilion for the International Exposition 1929.  The commissioner, Georg von Schnitzler wanted it to give “voice to the spirit of the new era”.  Since Art Nouveau had disappeared, the “new era” was very much here!  Free plan and Floating room was the main concepts adopted in the design of this sructure.

The plan of the house is open and you have a sense of true freedom and movement within it.

“…The roof rested on walls, or more properly wall planes, placed asymmetrically but always in parallels or perpendiculars, so that they appeared to slide past each other in a space through which the viewer could walk more or less endlessly, without ever being stopped within a cubical area.” – Cannot put it any better myself!

The roof plates, relatively small, are supported by the chrome-clad, cruciform columns which again gives the illusion of a suspended roof.  The entire building rests on a plinth of tavertine and the floor slabs project and reflects out on the pool and the building really does apear to float. The building has a strong perception of inside and outside space being as one.  I feel this is for many reasons and clever co-ordination.   Mies desired a place of tranquility and indeed he succeeded!!  He wanted a free plan where visitors were not forced around the building but merely encouraged to move.    He designed space which in turn directed people’s movements.. this was achieved by walls being displaced, running along side or simply altering the spaces in between.

As we see above, the materials the Mies chose to use were extremely clean cut and minimal!  Apart from tavertine as mentioned earlier, marble is very prominent.  However he also used a huge amount of glass.  Some tranlucent and others tinted in white, grey and green.  Coming back to this feature of inside and outside space, the glass plays a significant role when inside the building.  The full length windows which act as walls allows one to feel as though they are outside.  Looking out on the pool it does feel you are linked to nature.  This is where the inside and outside realms are diminished.


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