During the fascist regime of Franco, from 1936 until the late seventies, hardly any attention was given to original or inventive architecture. The city lacked public facilities like parks and plazas, and the streets were stuffed with boring but functional buildings. The existing Modernist buildings weren't badly damaged during WW II, but they were completely neglected and in bad shape. After Franco's death in 1975, and during the following democratic regime, Barcelona regained its status of flourishing city. During the eighties the first large scale renovation and new projects were started. The people of Barcelona then realized that the Modernist buildings had great value, really were extraordinary and needed to be restored. Several buildings of the Modernist architects like GaudÝ, DomŔnech, and Puig were beautifully renovated.
The fact that the Olympic games of 1992 would take place in the city gave an enormous impulse to continue the renovation works and to expand the city. City architect Oriol Bohigas was director of the 'Department of Architecture and Design' and dedicated himself to the job. Barcelona was converted into a gigantic construction zone and an architectural laboratory. Throughout the city urban projects were undertaken: at the harbor, at Montju´c, in the old city and in the suburbs. It was not the first time that such an event resulted in large projects ; before the Universal exhibition of 1888 and the International exhibition of 1929 the same thing happened.
Housing thousands of athletes and
spectators required specific buildings, sports infrastructure, public transportation,
parks, new roads, shops and restaurants. A large number of renowned architects from
Spain and all over the world were commissioned to take part in this huge project. To build
the Olympic Village (Nova Icaria) a complete but neglected area has been demolished. The
railway was put underground, 19th century factories and barracks where immigrants and
fishermen lived in had to disappear to release 124 acres of building land, and 4 km of
beach. The street plan with the square blocks of the area Eixample was used as the basis
for the new urban planning. Existing buildings, plazas and streets constituted as he basis
for new projects. The idea was to create a residential area at the harbor, provided
with all kinds of facilities like offices, shops, hotels, restaurants and bars, a marina,
a promenade, parks and a couple of thousand new homes. Much attention was given to details
like streetlights, benches, fences, sculptures and pavements. Some of the buildings are
real eye-catchers, e.g. the two 142 meters high tower blocks, the circular meteorological
institute, and Frank Gehry's gigantic gold colored sculpture 'Pez i Esfera' on top of the
shopping mall Marina Village. One of the tower buildings houses offices, the other houses
a hotel and is surrounded by a kind of scaffoldings.
Moll de la Fusta was one of the first
projects that was accomplished during the eighties. This avenue at the harbor is divided
in a part for cars and a wide pleasant promenade. As important as the layout of the street
are the interiors of the restaurants and bars that are situated along Moll de la Fusta.
Artworks like the giant lobster 'Gambrinus' by Javier Mariscall and Roy Liechtenstein's
'Cap de Barcelona' complete the picture.
Moll d'Espanya links the rest of the city with the harbor and exists of wooden platforms and bridges with waved iron structures on top.
The area Montju´c houses some
important contemporary buildings like the Barcelona pavilion by Mies van der Rohe, the
Fundaciˇ Mirˇ by Lluis Sert and the Olympic buildings. Montju´c was also an important
setting during the construction works before the '92 games. The Olympic Ring was
already the location of the dilapidated Olympic stadium built in 1929, an
Olympic swimming pool, a wheeler track, and there was still empty land available. The
stadium was important for the inhabitants of Barcelona because for decades it had been
a place where big events took place and where top atlethes performed before their
audience. Unfortunately, at the end of the sixties, the building was no longer used and
became deteriorated. However, because of its former importance for the city, it was
decided to remodel the building and to make it a building to be proud of again. The size
and the setting of the building allowed it to become the center of the Olympic games
events. It was necessary to renovate the stadium completely to comply with the current
security-regulations. The form reminds of a Greek amphitheater because of its open
structure and its location on top of the mountain. The brown facade was almost completely
preserved and completed with a white grinder. The interior was completely rebuilt to
accommodate 70.000 spectators.
The Barcelona pavilion also called 'Mies van der Rohe pavilion' is an important architectural place of interest at Montju´c. The architect designed the German pavilion for the worldfair in '29. The German government decided one year later that the building had to be dismantled and would later be sold in Germany. It was an innovative and remarkable building and was since its construction considered to be a milestone in modern architecture. Mies Van der Rohe was free to design the building as he wanted but it had to accommodate the King and Queen of Spain during the official opening of the exposition. Protest raised and architecure minded people tried to convince the Barcelona community to rebuild the building. It was only in 1983 that the local municipality took the decision to rebuild the pavilion on the same spot and in the exact way it was built 55 years ago. Architects in charge of the reconstruction Cristian Cirici, Fernando Ramos and Ignasi de Sola-Morales had an enormous responsibility. The building has a very open and spatial structure, and a tight design. It is one story high and has a rectangular pond. The roof rested on walls, placed asymmetrically but in parallel to each other. Material and space disposition are very important. The materials used on large surfaces are : glass, travertine marble, natural stone and onyx. Mies Van der Rohe designed furniture as well for the pavilion including the famous Barcelonachair.
Another remarkable building is Fundašio Joan Mirˇ at Parc de Montjuic. Mirˇ's works and other contemporary art are displayed in this fantastic building with a sculpturegarden on the roof. Catalan architect and friend of Mirˇ, Josep Lluis Sert finished this building in 1975. There are several exhibitionhalls, a restaurant and two museumshops, a library, an auditorium and a roof garden. In interior and exterior white walls and glass dominate. The roof shows some Mediterranean influences because of its wavy structure as the spaces itself have very straight forms. The building was extended in 1986 by architect Jaume Freixa, who was involved in the building of the original museum.
The striking bridge Bac de Roda Felip II was built by Santiago Calatrava.
Artgallery Santa Monica Centre dArts at the Ramblas, was built in the center of an old nunnery. An outstanding feature at the facade is the large green circle on the gray wall and the wooden platform leading to the entrance. The old conventtower was preserved and the combination of old an new makes it a very interesting exhibitionhall. Architects : Albert Viaplana and Helio Pinon.
The Museum of Contemporary Art MACBA, was designed by Richard Meier and Partners and was finished in 1992. Situated in a poor area between narrow streets and old, neglected houses, the enormous white museum is in contrast with its environment. An interior ramp, starting inside the high vestibule, links the ground-floor with the top-floor. The building has a simple structure and the exterior is made of glass and white aluminum sheets. There are different types of spaces: large loft-type spaces for large temporary exhibitions, more intimate spaces for small exhibitions, an education service, a library, and a shop.
The remarkable construction which can be spotted from several places in the city, is the communication tower Torre de Collserola, built by Sir Norman Foster. The middle exists of a slender concrete shaft of 4,5 metres high, supported by three pairs of wires made of high strength steel fixed into the hillside. The tower looks very elegant, contemporary and but fragile, but is escpecially designed to resist severe weather and strong winds. Tis construction shows that technology and aesthetics can go hand in hand.
There are lots of other projects like: Parc del Clot, Parc de la Creueta del Coll, Parc de LEspanya Industrial, Plaša de la Palmera...
Santiago Calatrava was born on the 28th of july 1951 in Valencia, Spain. His record of studies is quite impressive: he studied at the Institute of Architecture in Valencia, at the Federal Institute ofTechnology in Zurich, at the Politechnic University of Valencia, at the University of Seville, at the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, and at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, USA. He has architectural offices in Zurich, Paris and Valencia. Most of his work is situated in Switzerland, France and Spain. Because of his knowledge as an engineer, he is capable of carrying out difficult and unusual constructions. Calatrava won several awards, e.g. the August Perret Award in 1979. His buildings and constructions are characterized by light open spaces and straight forms, often made of steel and glass. He uses elemnts of existing constructions and influences of the past. Many of his works are more open constructions rather than closed buildings. He is well known for the striking bridges he designed.
Some of Calatrava's works
Arata Isozaki was born in Oita, Japan on July 23th 1931. At first he worked for the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. His current work is postmodern and he uses elements from historic European styles. Structure and form are important, as well as the choice of materials.
Some of Arata Isozaki's projects
Richard Meier was born on the 12th of October 1934 in Newark, New Jersey, USA. he studied architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca. From1960 -63 he worked with Marcel Breuer and in 1963 he established his own architectural office. During the eighties he won several architecture awards. His work is inspired by Le Corbusier. The spaces are very well structured and ordened, white is dominant, he makes optimal use of the incoming light, and often uses aluminium pannels.
Some of Richard Meiers projects:
Josep LluÝs Sert was born in Barcelona on the 1st of July 1902. Sert studied architecture in Barcelona. From 1929 - 1931 he worked with Le Corbusier. He was one of the founders of GATCPAC ( group of Catalan architects and technicians for the improvement of contemporary architecture. In 1939 he emigrated to the United States where he became in 1945 professor at Harvard University. He worked a lot in New York and Latin-America. In 1953 he succeeded Walter Gropius as head of the Graduate School of Design of Harvard University until 1969. his designs were strongly influenced by Le Corbusier. At first he made functional designs, but trough the years his buildings became less severe. He used South-American elements. Sert died in Barcelona on March 15 1983.
Some of Josep LluÝs Serts projects
Norman Robert Foster was born in Manchester, England on the 1st of June 1935. He studied at the universities of Manchester and Yale. In 1964 he founded with his wife Wendy and Richard Rogers, Team 4 which changed in 1967 into 'Foster associates'. Norman Foster was knighted in 1990 and can be called 'Sir' since then. Foster mixes creativity with functionality and uses the newest techniques and design.
Some of Sir Norman Fosters projects:
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was born in Aachen, Germany, on March 27,1886. He worked for and was taught by furniture designer Bruno Paul and by Peter Behrens who had great influence on him. He worked in Berlin as self-employed architect from 1912 to 1937. From 1930 until it was closed in 1933, he was director of the famous Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany. In 1937 he emigrated to the United States where he started an architecture-office in Chicago. In 1944 he was naturalized and became an American citizen. Until 1958 he was head of the architecture-department at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). In his work he wished to achieve a synthesis between modern industrialism and the forms of neo-classicism. This influence is at its most visible in his design for the country house of Miss. Kr÷ller-MŘller (1912). In Holland he got to know the architecture of H.P. Berlage, whose influence was visible in his works of the period before WW I. Between 1919 and 1924 he made some designs which where alternating striking and authentic. His houses designed between 1923 and 1926 are clearly influenced by the Dutch architectural movement 'De Stijl'. His design for the German pavilion for the Universal Exhibition of 1929 ( Barcelona Pavilion) is obviously influenced by the tendencies of that style and from his own principle to 'achieve more with less'. The most characteristic of his American works, where he worked starting in 1937, is the use of an external visible metal skeleton and large surfaces of glass. He often used more or less the same model as a base out of which he made a harmonious whole with different units. Mies Van Der Rohe died in Chicago on August 17, 1969.
Some of Mies Van Der Rohes projects
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