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Pavelló Mies van der Rohe was originally designed as the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition.  It was rebuilt in 1986.  I came here the last time I visited Barcelona (in the 80’s) – I did not expect anything to change and nothing has changed.  Nor does the design look dated or any less modern in 2011.  Timeless design !

The architecture is very simple and yet its proportions, alignments, choice of materials are brought together perfectly to create a series of beautifully serene pristine spaces.

It really deserves its reputation as an icon of modern architecture. It also houses the Barcelona chair – another iconic piece.

Soon after we arrived, the sky opened up and it poured.  The pavilion is located at the bottom of the Montjuic hills.  The sights here are far apart and there were no shelter. So we were trapped and waited for almost an hour and a half before the rain subsided. We had time to slowly discover the magic of this space – one reason I liked it is that while it is modern, it does not feel cold or mechanical, rather it allows nature (or natural light) to come in from various directions, making the place feels humanly comfortable.

Standing around, staring at the sky or the empty spaces afforded by the minimalist architecture, the effect was a lack of visual clutter whichever way you look, which invited introspection.  I imagine that this effect is particularly meaningful for those who live in big cities, who are constantly bombarded by people, signs, etc. It feels weird thinking about this place which looks the same as it did before but I became a different (at least older) person already.

To kill time, we composed and recomposed our pictures of the details of the pavilion.  As the pavilion is of a minimalist design, we exhausted the details in a few minutes of shooting.

While we were waiting, Sue struck up a conversation with a couple from upstate New York.  The lady was from Central America and joking about her inability to understand any Catalan despite being fluent in Spanish. By chance, we met them a few days later at a museum downtown  (MACBA).  We also met a young backpacking American student who proudly announced that he is majoring in architecture at U Penn, and how wonderful is this design. Duh.

The book shop is in that corner.

Finally, when there was a pause in the downpour.  We ran out and up the hill to MNAC (the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) and spent the rest of the day there.


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