Friday, August 28, 2009

Staying with Edwin & Amanda in Barcelona

Edwin & Amanda graciously let me stay with them while I was in Barcelona. They live in the area called the L'Eixample, which was easy walking distance to much of what I wanted to see and an easy walk to catch the metro. Barcelona has the best public transportation of any city I visited. One pass works for the buses, subway and trains. They are fast and clean and a reasonalbly priced. Very well organized.
View from the apt. of the chamfered corners that define L'Eixample.

First full day - at the market for breakfast & other food.

Montjuic & the German Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe

"Transparency is not the same as looking straight through a building: it's not just a physical idea, it is an intellectual one." - Helmut Jahn

The German Pavilion was designed and built for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition and dismantled when the expo was over. Two of the significant aspects of this design were the use of columns to support the roof in order to let the walls define the space independently & the dematerialization of space through the use of refective materials.

Luckily I arrived on a sunny day when reflections in the material were clear to see. So for example, the marble wall on the right appears to be transparent, allowing for a veiw of the pool behind it.

nice materials and design details....high chromium content steel, travetine and green marble.

...the wall on the left seems transparent as well, as if revealing the wall of surrounding the pool behind it....

I could not resist adding this -instead of dematerializing space we now have a portal into space!
(BMW had a spot next to the pavilion - a large car show had taken over Montjuic that weekend)

In this case, the reflection on the wall erases it completely....

Another aspect of this building is that the floor and the ceiling are about 11 feet apart and a viewers line of sight is about 5.5 feet - exactly half way between the 2 planes of roof and floor, giving them equal weight in the visual experience of the space.

Loved this stone on the exterior of the building.

View of Barcelona from Montjuic (not near the German Pavilion)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Parc Guell

The acoustics within the structures in Park Guell were amazing and there were plenty of musicians around to prove it.

I loved the columns here since they look as though they are being smushed by the weight they are carrying.

urban design along Passeig de Colom, near Port Vell, Barcelona

Of course Barcelona was my first stop on my itinerary, and did not know what I might see else where. But in the end, I felt that Barcelona had the best urban design for the combination of pedestrians, bikes, scooters and car/buses.

This image below is a example of the small details that I saw. Here (at the waterfront) there is no curb or change in grade - the ground is level and easy to manuver as a pedestrian or on a bike. To define the edges where cars travel, blocks are laid down to create an edge, but with gaps.

The roads along the water front could have been ridiculously congested and loud. There are still about 10 lanes of traffic but roughly every 2 lanes has a different height. The one immediately adjacent to the park will take scooters, beside that are two lanes that take cars, buses and trucks and it is lowered into the ground. Beside those two lanes are two others for traffic heading in the opposite direction and they are covered overhead by the road above.

There are generous pedestrian walkways to span the many lanes of traffic and the are more than simply utilitarian structures. I was there late in the day and all of the water front was quiet. The sound of traffic was allieviated somewhat by the design, because 10 lanes of traffic otherwise would have been deafening so close to a sidewalk & park.

Above is the road that carried traffic over two lanes below. This had two lanes of traffic in each direction, divided by a wide center median that had a bike lane and plenty of space for pedestrians to feel comfortable walking along. And even then, the sidewalks near the buildings were wide enough to have outdoor seating along them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Placa Reial, designed by architect Francesc Molina

This was a favorite square of mine, just off La Ramblas. It is completely surrounded by four story buildings and the ground level has a colonaded arcade that runs the perimeter. There are plenty of bars and restaurants and lots of people wandering about. What I found amazing was that until recently (maybe 10 years or so ago) this was used a parking lot.

The lamp posts in the square were Gaudi's first public works.

Below is the exit from the colonade and "under" a building (obviously not really) and into the narrow streets of the Bari Gotic.

Mercat de Santa Caterina...near Bari Gotic

Loved this Market! A simple idea of an undulating roof with a market underneath. Structure visible when inside, colorful roof top visible from outside.

Nearby modern buildings with inset balconies vs. the typical attached balconies on the older buildings. This was only 2 block from the Bari Gotic.