Thursday, January 14, 2016

Your Environment Influences Your Experience

The next morning we got on the metro to go down to the Barcelona Pavilion, which was designed by the famous Mies van der Rohe.  We met a delightful security guard guy at the front who was selling tickets.  A lot of places didn't accept my American student ID for the student discount, but this guy (who spoke excellent English) said, "Why not?!  You're a student, doesn't matter where!"  It was rather nice going to a more unknown tourist destination, with its lack of people, especially one that is meant to promote peace and serenity.

The building was originally constructed as the German exhibition for the 1929 International Exhibition being held in Barcelona.  As Germany was recovering from WWI, they wanted the exhibition to showcase their new identity: democratic, progressive, and pacifist.  It was torn down not even a year later, only to be missed so much by the Barcelona public that it was reconstructed in the 1980's.

The building itself has many conflicting ideas.  It showcases extreme minimalism, yet uses the most extravagant materials available.  It is meant to be used to celebrate and appreciate the surrounding nature, with its large glass walls and openings to the outside, but at the same time, the sterile minimalism shuts it out, makes the nature unwelcome to the inside.

Its dedication to straight lines and the soothing, cool colors were quite enjoyable, and it lends itself well to photographs.  I particularly enjoyed the sculpture in the smaller of the reflecting pools.

The layout encouraged movement, with an outdoor pathway leading to an outbuilding and the other viewpoint of the larger pool of tranquility.  We noticed earlier that the pools had quite a bit of dust and things floating in them.  Clearly, the guy at the front had been shirking on his pool-skimming duty!

This was a lovely visit.  I had studied Mies in several of my art history classes, but it was really cool to see it in real life, and have Taylor pointing things out in his architectural expertise.

(photos by e.hunt)

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