Barcelona Pavilion
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Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
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Location Barcelona, Spain   map
Date built 1928-1929, demolished 1930   timeline
Building Type exhibition building
 Construction System steel frame with glass and polished stone
Climate mediterranean
Context urban exposition site
Style Modern
Notes An Icon of the Modern movement. free plan exemplar. Rebuilt in 1959 to the original design.






Plan Drawing

Plan Drawing

Detail Drawing

Elevation Drawing

3D Model
3D Massing Model (DesignWorkshop 3dmf)

3D Detailed Model (DesignWorkshop 3dmf)

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Discussion Barcelona Pavilion Commentary

"The site [Mies van der Rohe] selected [for the German Pavilion in Barcelona] allowed for the transverse passage of visitors from a terrace-like avenue bordering the exhibition palaces to the other attractions. In addition, it afforded fine views of the exposition grounds and of the city of Barcelona. The building had no real program, as that term is understood and used by architects today. It was to be whatever Mies chose to make of it. The only function it had to accommodate was a reception for the King and Queen of Spain as they signed the "Golden Book" officially opening the exposition. According to Mies, the furniture designed and fabricated especially for the pavilion, the Barcelona chairs and stools, went unused during the opening ceremony. "To tell you the truth," he remarked, "nobody ever used them."

— David Spaeth. Mies van der Rohe. p63.

"The covered portion of the pavilion, one story high, occupied roughly the north half of the podium. Beneath its flat roof ran the series of interwoven spaces that has, as much as anything else, won the Barcelona Pavilion its immense prestige. The roof rested on walls, or more properly wall planes, placed asymmetrically but always in parallels or perpendiculars, so that they appeared to slide past each other in a space through which the viewer could walk more or less endlessly, without ever being stopped within a cubical area. This open plan, with its intimation of an infinite freedom of movement, was at the same time qualified by two rows of equally spaced, cruciform columns that stood in martial formation amid the gliding walls. The columnar arrangement constituted Mies's first use of the grid as an ordering factor in his building, a prefiguration of the monumental regularity that marked the work of his American years."—Franz Schulze in Knoll Internatational exhibition catalog, p3.

"The Barcelona pavilion...was without practical purpose. No functional programme determined or even influenced its appearance. No part of its interior was taken up by exhibits: the building itself was the object on view and the 'exhibition' was an architectural space such as had never been seen. The building consisted of walls and columns arranged on a low travertine marble channeled space between separate vertical and horizontal planes. But this time the flow of space was held within clamp-like walls at each end of the podium."

— Martin Pawley, introduction and notes, Yukio Futagawa, photographs. Mies van der Rohe. p15.

"In reality, the Barcelona Pavilion was a patch-up structure. Technically Mies was unable to erect the pavilion as a pure 'Dom-ino' structure; the eight cruciform columns alone could not support the roof and a number of extra columns had to be lodged in the double-skinned marble screens to help carry the load. But this makeshift structure did the job Mies asked of it and the plan remained inviolate. He pursued the idea in his model house at the Berlin Building Exhibition of 1931,..."

— Frank Russell, ed. Mies van der Rohe: European Works. p20.

"Radical rationalist that he is, his designs are governed by a passion for beautiful architecture. He is one of the very few modern architects who has carried its theories beyond a barren functional formula into the plastically beautiful. Material and space disposition are the ingredients with which he gets his effect of elegant serenity. Evincing in his work a love for beautiful materials and textures he emphasizes this predilection."

— Helen Appleton Read. from John Zukowsky, organizer. Mies Reconsidered: His Career, Legacy, and Disciples. p18.

The Creator's Words

"Right from the beginning I had a clear idea of what to do with that pavilion. But nothing was fixed yet, it was still a bit hazy. But then when I visited the showrooms of a marble firm at Hamburg, I said: "Tell me, haven't you got something else, something really beautiful?" I thought of that freestanding wall I had, and so they said: "Well, we have a big block of onyx. But that block is sold—to the North German Lloyd." They want to make big vases from it for the dining room in a new steamer. So I said: 'Listen, let me see it, ' and they at once shouted: 'No, no, no, that can't be done, for Heaven's sake you mustn't touch that marvellous piece." But I said: "Just give me a hammer, will you, and I'll show you how we used to do that at home." So reluctantly they brought a hammer, and they were curious whether I would want to chip away a corner. But no, I hit the block hard just once right in the middle, and off came a thin slab the size of my hand. 'Now go and polish it at once so that I can see it." And so we decided to use onyx. We fixed the quantities and brought the stone."

— David Spaeth "Mies van der Rohe", p62

"For me working in Barcelona was a brilliant moment in my life."

— Mies van der Rohe. from Frank Russell, ed. Mies van der Rohe: European Works. p20.

"Artistic expression is a manifestation of the unity of design and mateial. This once again underlines the necessity fo incorporating works of sculpture (or painting) creatively into the interior setting from the outset. In the great epochs of cultural history this was done by architects as a matter of course and, no doubt, without conscious reflection."

— Mies van der Rohe. from Mies van der Rohe. Less is More. p146.


Opened May 27, 1929
Demolished January, 1930
recontructed recently

Sources on Barcelona Pavilion

"Mies, Classical Modernist", by Michael J. Crosbie, ArchitectureWeek No. 61, 2001.0808, pN1.1.

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. ISBN 0-442-21668-8. LC 84-3543. NA2750.C55 1984. overlapping units diagram, p166.   Updated edition available at

Edward R. Ford. The Details of Modern Architecture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1990. ISBN 0-262-06121-X. LC 89-31772. NA2840.F67 1989. exterior photos, construction section/axonmetric details, p268-271. drawing of wall details, p268.   Available at

Paul Heyer. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0-442-01328-0. LC 92-18415. NA2750.H48. interior photo, p71. exterior photo, p11.

Martin Pawley, ed. Mies van der Rohe. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970. ISBN 671-20691-5. LC 73-119717. NA1088.M65A513 1970. p15.

Mies van der Rohe. Less is More. Zurich: Waser Verlag, 1986. ISBN 3-9080-8020-7. NA1088.M65B572 1986. p146.

Frank Russell, ed. Architectural Monographs 11: Mies van der Rohe, European Works. New York: St Martin's Press, 1986. ISBN 0-312-053214-8. LC 86-042539. NA1088 .M65M54 1986. p20.

Franz Schulze. Mies van der Rohe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985. interior photo, f102, p157; f104, p159. exterior photo, f103, p158.

John Zukowsky, organizer. Mies Reconsidered: His Career, Legacy, and Disciples. Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1986. ISBN 0-8478-0771-1. LC 86-17303. NA2707.M55A4 1986. p18.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Barcelona Pavilion


Web Resources
Links on Barcelona Pavilion

Foundation Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona

Matiu Carr's Barcelona Pavilion

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