January 29, 2016



From the architect: As part of the1929 International Exposition in Barcelona Spain, the Barcelona Pavilion, designed by Mies van der Rohe, was the display of architecture's modern movement to the world.  Originally named the German Pavilion, the pavilion was the face of Germany after WWI, emulating the nation’s progressively modern culture that was still rooted in its classical history. Its elegant and sleek design combined with rich natural material presented Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion as a bridge into his future career, as well as architectural modernism.
After several architectural triumphs in Germany, Mies was commissioned to design the German Pavilion for the International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain.  The pavilion was intended to be the face of the German section that would host King Alphonso XIII of Spain and German officials at the inauguration of the exposition.  Unlike other pavilions at the exposition, Mies understood his pavilion simply as a building and nothing more, it would not house art or sculpture rather the pavilion would be a place of tranquility and escape from the exposition, in effect transforming the pavilion into an inhabitable sculpture.
Situated at the foot of the National Art Museum of Catalonia and Montjuic, the Barcelona Pavilion resides on a narrow site in a quiet tucked away corner secluded from the bustling city streets of Barcelona.  Raised on a plinth of travertine, the Barcelona Pavilion separates itself from it context create atmospheric and experiential effects that seem to occur in a vacuum that dissolves all consciousness of the surrounding city.
The pavilion’s design is based on a formulaic grid system developed by Mies that not only serves as the patterning of the travertine pavers, but it also serves as an underlying framework that the wall systems work within.  By raising the pavilion on a plinth in conjunction with the narrow profile of the site, the Barcelona Pavilion has a low horizontal orientation that is accentuated by the low flat roof that appears to float over both the interior as well as the exterior.
The low stature of the building narrows the visitor’s line of vision forcing one to adjust to the views framed by Mies.  When walking up onto the plinth, one is forced under the low roof plane that captures the adjacent outdoor court as well as the interior moments that induce circulation throughout the pavilion. The interior of the pavilion consists of offset wall places that work with the low roof plane to encourage movement, as well as activate Mies’ architectural promenade where framed views would induce movement through the narrow passage that would open into a larger volume. This cyclical process of moving throughout the pavilion sets in motion a process of discovery and rediscovery during ones experience; always offering up new perspectives and details that were previously unseen.

Every aspect of the Barcelona Pavilion has architectural significance that can be seen at the advent of modern architecture in the 20th Century; however, one of the most important aspects of the pavilion is the roof.  The low profile of the roof appears in elevation as a floating plane above the interior volume.  The appearance of floating gives the volume a sense of weightlessness that fluctuates between enclosure and canopy. The roof structure is supported by eight slender cruciform columns that allow the roof to as effortlessly floating above the volume while freeing up the interior to allow for an open plan.  With the low roof projecting out over the exterior and the openness of the pavilion, there is a blurred spatial demarcation where the interior becomes and exterior and exterior becomes interior.
The pavilion is designed as a proportional composition where the interior of the pavilion is juxtaposed to two reflecting pools. The smaller reflecting pool is located directly behind the interior space which allows for light to filter through the interior volume as well illuminate the marble and travertine pavers.  The larger, shallow reflecting pool compliments the volume as it stretches across the rest of the plinth.  Its elegance and sleek lines establish a place of solitude and reflection.
In addition to the design, the materials are what give the Barcelona Pavilion its true architectural essence as well as the ethereal and experiential qualities that the pavilion embodies.  The pavilion meshes the man-made and the natural employing four types of marble, steel, chrome, and glass.  The marble originates from the Swiss Alps and the Mediterranean.  Mies’ implementation of the marble is created through a process of splitting, called broaching, that creates a symmetrical patternization that’s found in the marble.  However, the most used material is the Italian travertine that wraps the plinth and the exterior walls adjacent to the reflecting pool.  When exposed to the sun, the travertine becomes illuminated almost as a secondary light source that dissolves the natural stone and washes the light over the space.  The travertine’s inherent luminous qualities as well as Mies’ seamless employment of the material over the plinth adds to the dissolution of spatial demarcation transforming the pavilion into one continuous volume rather than two separate entities.
In 1930, the original Barcelona Pavilion was dismantled after the International Exposition was over; however; in 1983 a group of Catalan architects began working on rebuilding the pavilion from photographs and what little salvaged drawings that remained.  Today it is open daily and can be seen in the same location as in 1929.
You may visit Bauhaus Archive permanent exhibition news at Museum Für Gestaltüng to get more information about Mies van der Rohe term to click below link.

The Fundació Mies van der Rohe was set up in 1983 by the Barcelona City Hall with the initial purpose of reconstructing the German Pavilion, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition.
Besides conserving and disseminating knowledge about the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, the Fundació today also fosters debate on and awareness of themes related to contemporary architecture and urban planning, as well as encouraging studies on the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and on the Modern Movement. In accordance with these objectives, the Fundació organises awards, congresses, conferences, exhibitions, workshops and installations.
Outstanding among these activities is the organisation, jointly with the European Commission, of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award, one of the most prestigious of all European architecture prizes.
The Fundació Mies van der Rohe regularly organises itinerant exhibitions documenting its own Architecture Awards, and others featuring modern and contemporary architecture in general from either a historical or present-day point of view. To this end, exhibitions devised by the Foundation itself are combined with those organised jointly with entities that pursue similar aims.
The format of the “cycle of lectures” is designed to examine a current theme in a number of sessions, the aim of which is to offer as comprehensive an overview as possible of the state of the question.
The cycles of lectures are related to other Fundació programmes and are complemented by activities such as installations and exhibitions.
It is anticipated that two cycles will take place annually. Depending on their nature, they may be held either at the Pavilion or in other venues with greater capacity.
As part of its dissemination programme, the Fundació Mies van der Rohe publishes a catalogue for each edition of the European Award. Each catalogue features the prize-winning and finalist projects with a view to providing contemporary architectural output with a frame of communicative reference.
The Fundació also publishes catalogues and books related to activities that take place at the Pavilion.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was born on March 27, 1886 in Aachen, the son of Jakob Mies (a dealer in marble) and Amalia Rohe. In 1913, he moved with his wife Ada Bruhn to Werder (on the outskirts of Berlin). There his daughters Marianne and Waltrani were born, followed some time later by Dorotea, who would subsequently change her name to Georgia. Until World War I, Mies’s social and professional relations had been with well-to-do families, but after 1918 everything changed: he separated from his family and, through Hans Richter, came into contact with the contemporary avant-garde, particularly Van Doesburg, Man Ray, Hilberseimer, Walter Benjamin and Raoul Hausmann.
During his participation in the Weissenhof housing exhibition at Stuttgart, between 1925 and 1927, Mies established a relationship with interior designer Lilly Reich that was to last until 1939. They worked together on the Glassraum (glass room) for the 1927 Stuttgart exhibition, on the Barcelona Pavilion, on the Tugendhat house in Brno between 1928 and 1930 and on the house they presented at the 1931 Berlin exhibition.
In 1930 the mayor of Dessau proposed that Mies direct the Bauhaus, where he would succeed Hannes Mayer, who had been in charge since 1928, when he took over from the founder Walter Gropius. His assistants during this period were Lilly Reich and Hilberseimer. The outcome of the 1931 elections was a Nazi majority at the Dessau Municipal Council, who decided to close the Bauhaus. Given this situation, Mies moved it to Berlin as a private centre under his own name. After having negotiated with the Nazi minister Rosemberg, in 1933 he decided to close the centre rather than cede to ideological pressure. Lack of funds also influenced this decision.
In 1938 Mies emigrated to the United States, specifically to Chicago, where he worked at the Armour Institute of Technology architecture school, which he eventually came to direct. He designed and executed the campus for the new Illinois Institute of Technology and its prismatic steel-structured buildings with naked brick and glass walls.
In 1940 the architect met Lora Marx, who would be his faithful companion until his death in 1969. In 1944 he was naturalised as citizen of the United States.
Between 1945 and 1950 he built the Farnsworth House in Illinois, in a meadow surrounded by trees beside the River Fox. The house consists of a single interior space enclosed behind glass façades. The floor and roof are of flat concrete slabs.
Between 1948 and 1951 Mies was able to reify his dream of building a glass skyscraper. This took the form of the twin towers of the Lake Shore Drive Apartments in Chicago and, later, the Commonwealth Promenade Apartments (1953-1956), also in Chicago. Both projects are masterful examples of use of the arcade structure and the steel and glass curtain wall.
Jointly with Philip Johnson, between 1954 and 1958 Mies built the legendary Seagram Building office block in New York, a paradigm of this kind of building, in which he continued to perfect the arcade structure and curtain wall.
The Bacardí office block in Mexico, in which Mies continued to use glass, steel and travertine as his basic materials, was built between 1957 and 1961.
In 1959 he retired from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Between 1962 and 1968 Mies built the National Gallery in Berlin, a building for art exhibitions that comprises a huge main hall made entirely from glass and steel and standing on an extensive granite-slab terrace.
On August 17 1969 Mies van der Rohe died in Chicago, leaving as his legacy a set of new canons that, inspired by his world-famous dictum less is more, advocate a sober, universal form of architecture.