In 1929, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was commissioned to create the German national pavilion for the International Exposition in Barcelona, displaying the modern post-World War Germany.
Also known as the “Barcelona Pavilion,” Mies van der Rohe’s construction was intended to be in the German section of the exhibition, hosting the King of Spain and German officials and displaying the country’s new architecture. However, history had another thing in mind as Germany was already under Nazi rule and the pavilion ultimately stood only for a few months before being dismantled.
In 1983, a group of Catalan architects used photographs and drawings to rebuild the pavilion in its former glory and were successful in constructing a perfect replica, which can still be visited today.
Less is more
Designed to stand simply as a building, rather than a site to house artwork as many built pavilions in the exhibition were designed to do, Mies van der Rohe created rather a minimal site, which allowed visitation in a somewhat tranquil state, the structure itself being seen as an art piece, a sculpture, for onlookers to enjoy.
Following the architect’s ethos of “less is more,” the pavilion is raised on a plinth and its design is built around a formulaic grid system which informs both the layout of the walls and the pavers of the plinth itself. Its simple, clean lines and unassuming air created one of the most influential buildings of the 20th century, displaying an incredible example of modern architecture.
The pavilion was constructed – and has been reconstructed – using four different types of marble sourced in the Swiss Alps and the Mediterranean. Additional touches of steel, chrome and tinted glass create an interesting play on the interior space, especially with the accompanying pool’s reflection when viewed from the outside.
The textured materials, and in part the incredible natural colours encapsulated in the sourced marble, draw the eye and display a true understanding of balance between form and substance. The paired-back design allows the materials to do all the talking, resulting in a truly tranquil environment that veritably invites you to slow down and take in your surroundings.