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Columns Commemorating the 30 Years of the Reconstruction of the German Pavilion in Barcelona

Luis Martínez Santa-Maria y Roger Sauquet Llonch

FAD Awards finalist 2017  Ephemeral interventions
Description Technical file

The Jury’sappraisal: The hundred sheet steel casks collected from a chemical waste dump acquire a new life of greater dignity and beauty by being recycled as drums for these new columns that recall those installed in the past in front of this icon of modern architecture. The casks, joined vertically by a simple welding cord, together with their colourful yet paint-stripped and rusted finish, transform their significance and are situated halfway between conceptual art and an architectural installation. In fact, the reference to the upright element facing the horizontality of the Barcelona pavilion reconnects with the essence of these primordial elements in architecture: the podium and the column; the slab and the screen; fine material and recycled material, all of them engaged in dialogue.
We are not saying anything new if we remember that the horizontal layout of Barcelona’s German Pavilion sought to find a contrast with the eight Ionic columns and that the German Pavilion, like all of Mies’s architecture, insisted on non-expressing the structure. The columns, the pillars and the bases become objects and any obvious reading of the structural system is short-circuited. Whether Mies knew it or not, the pavilion’s columns lined in chromed steel maintain a profound connection with the classic columns that were also created to make us believe that they are not affected by weight and that, far from supporting a load, they appear to emerge from the ground to rise and open up.
The budget limitations were an encouragement to seek out eight columns that would be easy to build yet would display the grace of the old ones. Sheet steel casks that came from chemical waste dumps, casks associated with today’s city marked by recognizable marks, are placed one on top of the other thanks to simple welding cords. They are the new drums of the columns. They are also objects of some value, since time has stripped off their paint and disfigured them, deactivated their functionality to produce inimitable effects on their surfaces and dents. Classic columns must undoubtedly have been created to celebrate light and the horizon. In a well-known drawing by Le Corbusier, the column shafts of the Parthenon reflect the mountains, the sky and the sea. They are reflecting surfaces that speak of the spirit of the place in which they stand and which multiply this reflection in each one of their grooves. The multi-coloured row of columns made from industrial waste drums is also an ironic play on the threats of the industrial landscape and the ambiguous and misguided beauty revealed by that very landscape. These eight shafts made from scrap metal would probably have been to the liking of a Mies who once said: “I don’t want to transform the world, I only want to express it, that’s all I want”.

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Localización Location: Barcelona. Spain. Arquitectos Architects: Luís Martínez Santa-María y Roger Sauquet Llonch. Colaboradores Collaborators: Azucena Sánchez Cediel, Carmen Cabañas Barrajón, Anna Bonnet Esteve y Berta Fusté Suñé. Estructura Structure: Enrique Martínez Sierra, Robert Brufau Niubó y Joan-Ramón Blasco Casanovas. Iluminación Lighting: Iguzzini. Cimentación Foundation: Synergia Sicons S.L. Contratista / Cerrajería Contractor / Locksmith: Antonio de la Rosa. Fotografía Photography: Roland Halbe.
Luis Martínez Santa-María
Roland Halbe
Stuttgart, Alemania