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Reflections In Barcelona

Self Portraiture Through Reflections


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES BEAU TYLER DURHAM BARCELONA INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTURE PROFESSOR_ JOAN FONTCUBERTA

Mies van der Rohe’s German Pavilion for the International Exposition in Barcelona has been a symbol of modernism and architecture since it was first construction in 1929, despite standing for under a year. Though for most of its life it lived vicariously through black and white photographs. These images created an unprecedented allure around the project. This simple modernist pavilion became an infamous piece of architecture lore. Students of architecture swooned over these images. Meticulously studying every aspect of the structure, material, and ambiance. So much so that the building was rebuilt in 1986. The once temporary pavilion forever sealed in black and white negatives, jumped from paper and back into reality. This Barcelona Pavilion 2.0 caused quite the stir within the architectural community, which

Exterior view from front, 1929. Gelatin silver print

was summed up nicely by Dutch architect Rem Koolhass “…the Barcelona Pavilion was reconstructed in color…” Within the history of the Pavilion lies the most pertinent examples of the tense relationship between architecture and photography. Architecture, from the primitive hut to the current vernacular iterations, is something that must be experienced. A realm of art, which was meant to be inhabited, not just observed. One cannot experience the sun’s glare through a pane of glass or the cool feel of stone against your flesh through a photograph. The tactile nature of the architectural experience is felt through all five senses. Though on the other hand a photograph, especially when mass-produced, is solely left for a visual consumption. This gives an unique experience, allowing the viewer to interpret the space, in the case of architectural photography, based on previously gained knowledge. Their background constructs a unique scenario in the viewers mind. One that assembles itself from a palate of

Berliner Bild-Bericht - Barcelona Pavilion, View from the Illuminable Glass Wall into the Interior, 1929 Vintage Gelatin silver print


architectural vocabularies from what they personally know. In the case of the Barcelona Pavilion the photographs from 1929 capture an image of modern architecture’s definition. For sixty years these photographs formed a life of their own. Through morphing from not only capturing the event of the Exposition but also the definition of the ideal piece of twentieth century architecture. Something, which is stripped down to its elementary form to capture the essence of its function. In the case here, a temporary building to protect its inhabitants from the elements, easy circulation of crowds, a gathering space for events and the showing off German culture at the event. The ideals formed from these photographs became so pertinent to the society of architecture the desire to experience the building once again arose. Driving to its eventual recreation. This desire stems from the photography saturated nature of current architectural education. An education where buildings from around the world are taught remotely. Though unlike many buildings studied in school, where the student could have the chance to experience the building first hand, for Mies’ pavilion this was not an option. It could be argued that the reconstruction ruined this established allure of the original photographs preserved in textbooks. Due to the fact that the colorless images fit so neatly into the modernist ideology. An ideology of simplisty and restraint. Though counter to its critics, the new pavilion does bring back the essence of what architecture is, something that must be

experienced. Thus giving the chance for a new generation of architects to learn the lessons of that time through all senses. So, the draw to this building is still there. Lessons can still be learned. Now, the color version of the building holds the same importance and relevancy. Probably more so today than it was pre 1986. As a student and practitioner of architecture myself, which has never been conscience of a world without a Barcelona Pavilion in color, this building has an inexplicable draw to my subconscious. The simplicity of form draws you in to the mystic of the building. This fascination has been festering inside of me. Wondering how such a simple and temporary building stands as an equal on the pedestal of the great architecture through time. This intrigue can only be explained through the experience. Walking though the pavilion you begin to understand the allure. You being to reflect on the image you have erected in your mind. While weaving in and out of the pavilion this mental construction begins to reflect back onto you and you onto building. One sees themselves and the modernist ideal in the reflection of the cross-shaped stainless steel columns. The cold harsh elegance of nature reveals itself to you as your hands run along the onyx partition. The modernist balance of the artificial and the natural becomes apparent as the ocean breeze subtlety moves the foliage seen through the glare of an uninterrupted piece of glass. Bringing you to the conclusion that the beauty of a great piece of architecture does not lie in how well it functions but how you, the inhabitant, becomes aware of yourself within the space.

REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM


“To call a work of architecture or design beautiful is to recognize it as a rendition of values critical to our flourishing, a transubstantiation of our individual ideals in a material medium.” Alain de Botton The Architecture of Happiness

REFLECTIONS WITH MIES _ BEAU TYLER DURHAM

Reflections in Barcelona  

Self Portriat Project within the Barcelona Pavilion

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