Fundació Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona

Right at the base of Barcelona’s Montjuïc hill, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe built a minimalist marble framework that plays with material, light and openness.

When stepping inside the monument, you might find yourself wondering what space exactly you have entered. An elegant aesthetic and rich materials give away its importance, but the lack of decoration will make you think twice about this intriguing piece of architecture. The true function of the building dates all the way back to 1929, when Mies van der Rohe was asked to build a meeting place for the International Exhibition of Barcelona.

The design is an experiment in free-flowing space, with no separation of rooms or inside and outside. It feels as if the construction is being at odds with its surroundings. At the same time, the forestry backdrop seems to interact with the open character of the space.

Although the work was created centuries ago, its maker captured the spirit of the modern era through form and materials. A great part of the interior is made of marble, red onyx and travertine, while translucent walls frame the space brilliantly, inviting light to come in.

In the center of the building an icon of modern design is present: the Barcelona chair, designed by Mies van Rohe with his assistant Lilly Reich. The white leather chair was specially designed to compliment the pavilion. At the time, the chair was made to offer the King and Queen of Spain a royal seat when they welcomed German authorities during the Barcelona International Exhibition.

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