The Barcelona Pavilion (Catalan: Pavelló alemany; Spanish:
Pabellón alemán; "German Pavilion"), designed by Ludwig Mies van derRohe and Lilly Reich, was the German Pavilion at the 1929 International
Exposition in Barcelona, Spain.
This building was used for the official opening of the
German section of the exposition. It is an important building in the history of
modern architecture, known for its simple form and spectacular use of
extravagant materials, such as marble, red onyx and travertine.
The same characteristics of minimalism and spectacularity
can be applied to the prestigious furniture designed specifically for the
building, including the iconic Barcelona chair. It has inspired many important
The German Pavilion for the Barcelona exhibition
Every world exhibition of the last century drew portraits of
countries. The Barcelona pavilion was its hallmark. However, judging by the
pavilion of the 1929 Barcelona World Exposition, Germany looked beautiful, free
The Barcelona pavilion was built by the architect of the
last century, the German Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. This was the most perfect
building of the time, representing the "modern movement", the
international style. Since then nothing more beautiful has been created in this
style. It was impossible to check it anyway. The location of the Barcelona
pavilion is Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 7, 08038 Barcelona, Spain.
The legend existed for three months and disappeared, leaving
only plans and photos. But in the 1980s, when it was not fashionable to follow
the ideas of Mies van der Rohe, any fool laughed at the international style,
several Catalan architects decided to restore the Barcelona pavilion by mies
van der rohe. And they did it with exceptional precision and care. So now it is
accessible to sight, touch and even understanding.
The 1929 Barcelona Pavilion is one of the most important
works of the modern movement, designed by the German architect Mies van der
Rohe. Let's remember that universal expositions are international events that
used to be held at different intervals and today take place every five years
with the intention of promoting industrial and technological progress by
showing those technical and scientific innovations that can bring about
improvements in the living conditions of our planet.
The first exhibition was held in London in 1851, followed by
Paris and other cities until arriving in Barcelona in 1929, the exhibition was
a pretext to revalue and provide services to the city being a wave of
renovation that mainly affected the mountain of Montjuic and also carried out a
series of works in Barcelona as the electric lighting of the city, the airport,
the layout of roads, sewerage and other improvements.
Other countries took these development interventions as an
example to reactivate their economy. Each participating country was involved in
the realization of its pavilion trying to summarize in the interior its main
aspects, philosophy and style.
Germany put its architect Mies van der Rohe in charge of the
design of its space in the summer of 1928, just one year before the opening of
the exhibition. The aim of the work was to symbolically represent the
progressive, democratic, prosperous and pacifist character of the new Weimar
Republic, recovering an image lost after the First World War.
The Barcelona pavilion and its spatial analysis, what we see
today, is the result of the work carried out between 1983 and 1986 by a team of
Spanish architects composed of Ignasi de solà morales, Cristian cirici and
Fernando ramos who, based on the documents they had at their disposal at the
time, reconstructed the floor plan of the Barcelona pavilion, remaining
faithful to the original that was dismantled at the end of the exhibition in
The first plot is a corridor of travertine marble panels
that gives access to the central courtyard almost entirely occupied by a large
rectangular pond whose bottom is covered by river stones, in a corner of the
plot there is a small service building leaning against the wall that delimits
on one side a long simple and schematic bench lined with the same material, the
classic Roman travertine and water surface forces the visitor to make a 180
degree turn to enter the building suddenly and after the turn the flat
reinforced concrete cover is released behind the wall suspended in the void and
impacts by the extreme lightness of its form.
The building built on a high podium is based on an elegant
play of independent orthogonal planes that between them allow a continuous and
fluid dialogue with the external environment by the large and generous glazed
surfaces this idea of transparency and fluidity wanted to be the basis of the
meaning of the work those ideas of freedom of progress and cultural avant-garde
that the German republic wanted to convey in contrast to the extinct Prussian
empire in a rhythmic progression of space obtained by the modular repetition of
the slender cruciform pillars.
The interior environment is continuous and flows with free
planes that separate the environments studied for the characteristics of the
materials used where a subtle influence of the typical Japanese architecture is
perceived for the independence, between the load-bearing structures and the
dividing panels for that freedom in the spatial planning and the capacity of
integration with nature.
The minimalist and simple interior as a concept of the
Barcelona pavilion becomes the protagonist of the eight thin cruciform pillars
which are covered in chromed steel to be invisible to the eye and only in
section, the design rigor is appreciated by expert eyes, a few screws in sight
show what happens inside revealing the character not so much of the walls that
leave the visitor free to space in different environments to uncertain limits.
The modern language is part of the characteristics of the
German pavilion in Barcelona (dwg) is exalted by the use of materials such as
glass, steel and the four types of marble travertine Roman classic green of the
Alps, an ancient green of Tinos a Greek island of the Cyclades and African
golden onyx of the Atlas, The golden onyx panel for the interior wall alone had
a considerable impact on the total cost, its dimensions had a major impact on
the size of the building, but there was no time to order another one and so we
had to make do with the one available from a marble warehouse in Hamburg.
Crossing the living room you reach a second inner courtyard
completely enclosed on three sides by a wall covered with marble from a shallow
mirror of water emerges a statue in bronze vermorgen the sunrise work of the
German sculptor york blow positioned in a corner of the pond, due to the lack
of a roof in that area, the sculpture receives direct sunlight and is so
blinded by it that it is forced to protect itself, showing in this innocent
gesture the search for a strong plastic consistency of vaguely classical
inspiration, becoming the focal point of that intimate and reserved environment.
The female nude finds in the reflection of the water a
potential multiplier of the image of a serene and relaxing oasis that invites
the visitor to the exhibition to pause, returning to the interior the large
rectangular space dominated by the wall in golden onyx is wisely reflected in
the play of the position of the panels.
The furniture consists of two seats and a table on a black
carpet that contrasts the colors protected from the light of the entrance by a
large red silk curtain, it is said that at the opening, it was necessary to
look for the black in the color of the carpet, the red in the color of the
curtains and yellow in the onyx wall, colors perhaps hidden to a superficial
look but not to those who are attentive to detail, so the aphorism god is in
the details is born with me and this confirms it.
Lilly Reich was born in berlin in 1885, this woman began as
a professional seamstress and later worked in the Viennese workshop of Josef
Hoffmann, one of the greatest Austrian architects. from there she began a
professional career as a designer, fashion stylist, interior designer and the
first woman to be elected to a board of directors in Germany in 1920, the
Fate made her meet Reich and Mies van der Rohe during an
exhibition in the Bein area of Stuttgart, where Mies was artistic director. The
two began to meet and a professional collaboration was created that developed
into a sentimental relationship, or vice versa, and no one can say for sure.
From 1926 to 1938 from 1927 he moved to Mies's studio
residence in Berlin to live and work with him, together they participated in
several exhibitions and did many projects and in those works during that long
season the furniture is always present, initially attributed to Mies but in reality
drawn by Reich, as evidenced by the fact that after separating from her Mies
never again developed any other interior design project.
In 1929 they worked on the German pavilion in Barcelona,
then they did other projects and other initiatives always developed together,
in 1932 Mies called Reich to direct the textile workshop and interior design at
the Bauhaus at that time there were few women who gave classes, a job that he
had to leave due to the forced closure of the school in 1933 by the Nazi regime.
Reich collaborates with Mies until his departure for America
in 1938. The climate in Germany was already becoming difficult, so difficult
that in April of the same year Mies returns to close some business in his
office and does not manage to leave until August, not without risking arrest
and thanks to a passport and a visa that arrives from a friend just before the
Gestapo officers caught him in a hurry.
Part while the situation in Germany worsens, in this period
a correspondence is recorded that will also take root to America in 1939 where
they will share a few weeks together and it is believed that my did very little
for her to stay longer she then returns to Berlin and since then they never saw
each other again, that same year at the New Year's Eve cotillion Mies meets the
now Marx and falls in love.
This woman will be his companion until he dies in 1969
returning to the tumultuous climate of berlin with the departure of mies, ellie
right continues to manage in the architectural trades in Germany probably
cultivating an unrequited love as well as a serious professional, she took care
of his office and classified all the drawings, he took care of the legal
controversies that the studio had pending, many pieces of furniture were
continuously copied and had to defend the copyrights, he helped financially mies'
ex-wife and his three daughters from that marriage who continued to live in the
city without the possibility of receiving financial support from him.
Because of the difficult political situation, it is thanks
to her that more than four thousand drawings and documents from the office have
been saved and are now part of the mixed archive at the MOMA in New York
because it was she who, in the middle of the war, took the documents far from
the bombing of Berlin and hid them in a secluded farmhouse.
In 1943 ellie rigth was arrested and many of the women and
men involved in the bauhaus school had problems with the nazi regime and was
taken to a concentration camp where she was confined until the end of the world
conflict in 1945. the period of confinement probably compromised her health
since a tumor took her away two years later in december 1947 in berlin.
wright brought refinement to mies's work by exploring the
visual and tactile qualities of the materials, an example is the exaltation of
the contrasts between shiny metals and rough surfaces. analyzing the root
drawings before the collaborations, we can understand that her presence has
accelerated the process of modernization of the architect because she already
had the same capacity and the same intuitions that we will find in the
We find in that proverb said by mies that has remained in
time less is more (less is more) three words in praise of the simplicity of a
formal minimalism that is reached through a process of subtraction to reach the
true essence of the projection of living concepts applicable to design and
architecture and not only that also to the lifestyle to the rigor of the
choices to everyday behaviors.
It is impossible to go forward and look back; those who live in the past cannot move forward.
- Mies van der rohe