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Monday, October 15, 2007

Montjüic Pavilion and Garden

Montjüic Pavilion and Garden in Barcelona, Spain by Federico Calabrese

Located on the same Montjüic Mountain as the Barcelona Botanical Institute featured on this page last week, this pavilion and garden by Federico Calabrese illustrates the strong embrace of architecture and landscape by the city and its inhabitants, something that extends from streetscapes and other features of urban design and the city scale to a small two-room building and its adjacent garden.

The project is a renovation and conversion of the 1970s Miramar building. As new construction is severely limited on the mountain site, this provided a rare opportunity for the architects, who created a glass and steel bar pavilion on a teak deck overlooking the Mediterranean, and a small garden at a lower level adjacent to a restaurant occupying that portion of the old Miramar building.

Obviously influenced by Mies van der Rohe, whose Barcelona Pavilion from 1929 is a touchstone of Modern architecture, the pavilion recalls the master architect's glass boxes of his stateside years, like the Farnsworth House, which is also raised above its context. Here the glass walls give revelers unobstructed views of the city and the sea, while the raised plinth gives them that extra boost to see over others on the surrounding decks. It's a straightforward response to the program and its context that fits remarkably well in its unique location.

One level below, the architects responded to a different context in a suitably different way. Predominantly comprised of stone blocks set into a geometrical arrangement of overlapping rectangular planes, the paved areas create paths and areas of respite around existing trees. This sensitive solution allows for shade where the upper platform is open. Most importantly it allows for an interaction with nature, an extension of the rest of the mountain "between the city and the sea."

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