Happy returns: Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion celebrates 30 years

Happy returns: Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion celebrates 30 years

It’s been 30 years since the recreation of Mies van der Rohe’s feted Barcelona Pavilion. To commemorate its anniversary, Fundació Mies van der Rohe, the nonprofit organisation that manages the property, has launched an exciting program of events.

Designed in 1929 for the Barcelona International Exhibition, the beautifully refined glass, steel and marble structure was quickly disassembled in 1930. Half a century passed with only photographs and drawings for reference; but though long gone, the structure was not forgotten, fondly remembered by the world as a shining example of van der Rohe’s architectural genius and 20th-century modernism. Work began in 1983 to reconstruct the iconic building on its original site, with the Pavilion finally reaching completion in 1986.

The opening of the anniversary celebrations, attended by the Mayoress of Barcelona and members of the team responsible for the Pavilion’s reconstruction, will commence with the unveiling of an artistic reinterpretation of the columns that were situated next to the 1929 original, designed by Catalan modernist Josep Puig i Cadafalch. ‘Fear of Columns’, an open competition, called for proposals to envision a temporary reinterpretation of the original context, to be located adjacent to the new Pavilion.

From 121 entries, the panel of judges unanimously opted for Spanish architect Luis Martínez Santa-María’s submission as the winner, with a project titled ‘I don’t want to change the world. I only want to express it’ – named after a quote from van der Rohe himself.

The installation, consisting of eight tall columns, will be constructed from a number of sheet steel drums retrieved from chemical waste cemeteries and welded together. The project, described by Santa-María as ‘objets d’art’, was cited by the judging panel as being contemporary and compelling due to its contrast to the pavilion’s horizontal form.

The program of events will continue with the Pavilion remaining open to the public over five days, providing neighbours, citizens and travelers with the opportunity to visit. On 16 June, Tristán Perich will unveil his three-day long installation Microtonal Wall, consisting of 1,500 loudspeakers on a 7.5m aluminium panel, which will fill the Pavilion’s interior with a range of sounds.

In the month of October, the Pavilion will host a three-day symposium covering a wide range of topics related to van der Rohe, modern architecture and its close relationship to the Bauhaus school and the Weimar Republic.

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