Urbancreations

Sunday Water Show

May 31, 2009
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Tonight I went to Placa de Espana and watched the weekend water show. Not quite the Bellagio, but they did play a lot of 90´s music that you might have heard at the high school prom, took me back a bit. I also got some video footage that I´ll try to upload at some point. It was a nice, relaxing way to spend a Sunday evening after a pretty busy week, hope you enjoy it too.

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Gaudi or How I Learned to Stop Depending on Machines for Daily Living

May 30, 2009
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So I´m going to jump into the future for a second. Two days from now my computer is going to crash and life as I know it will cease to exist. Sad but true. The worst part about this predicament for those reading this is that the blog is going to be significantly less cool. I´ll blog and upload pics as usual, but no image manipulation or videos for now. I´m going to rework the blog once I get home and I´ll send out an email once it´s done, but for now mediocrity is my middle name.

In the meantime, I took this Saturday afternoon to stroll by The Batllo house by Gaudi. I didn´t go on the inside (that´s for this coming tuesday), but the outside was pretty stellar. Also happens to be my wife´s favorite architect, so I thought it would be worth two posts. Enjoy.


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The German Pavillion

May 29, 2009
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Also known as the Barcelona Pavilion by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe , we came here two days ago and then took some time to let it soak in. I went back today, had some gelato and did some drawing. It was a great afternoon.

I know a lot of you might say something like, “I don’t get it?” It’s ok, I had to look at it for a long time before I got it, and some of it is still lost on me I’m sure. I’m probably couldn’t give you any sophisticated explanation of the buildings significance, but I would say its about minimalism, materiality, precision and space conception, but really I think its just about Mies.

Lastly here’s the first film I ever made. Obviously not my best work, especially now that I’ve seen it in person, but it gave me the chance to really discovered Mies, and a big part of what brought me here. Enjoy.


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Forum con Barcelona

May 28, 2009
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Today it was my and Kendal’s turn to walk the group around part of Barcelona. This is the same part that contains the amazing photovoltaic in my earlier post (“A Photovoltaic Like No Other”). We met right off the metro and walked through yet another amazing Enric Mirrales park installation (below).

Just across from the park there’s an interesting convention center/hotel complex next to the local shopping mall. I haven’t gotten inside yet, but there’s an amazing view of the ocean from the neck of the building on the left. The complex is a collage turned architecture. Squint your eyes if you don’t quite see it.

The last part of the walk we were able to complete (due to some weekend concert event) was the forum by Herzog & De Meuron. It’s a really interesting building, but part of me is just not that in love with it. But you do get some interesting moments, and from a certain vantage point the building seems to float. It’s a triangular shaped building, but if you walk underneath, you can see places where the building is punctured through and lined with reflective materials. Not too bad.


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It’s about Mies, but I really think it’s about architectural landscape ecology and modernism!

May 27, 2009
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Well tonight I would have to say it was really about Barcelona winning the cup. I watched the last half an hour or so of the game on the megatron at Catalunya. In about the 75th minute or so Messi headed in a goal off a pretty sweet pass that sealed the deal. It was fun to watch and also to see how crazy the rest of the world gets about soccer (futbol, whatever). I’ve never watched a full game and I probably never will, but I can always get into a game in a country where people care about it. I mean, if I could get into cricket I could probably get into anything.

Now to the real post. It was a full day. We walked a good 7 or 8 hours, and by the time I was done I was sorry I started, but we did see some pretty amazing things. As the title of the post suggests, the day started out about Mies, but since he will require multiple posts throughout the trip, I’ll skip over him and start right into architectural landscape ecology and modernism (as our fearless leader put it.) I will say that our first stop was the Barcelona, I mean “german” pavillion and it blew my mind. Awesome.

We made quite a trek up the hill, passing lots of civic buildings that included what I’m assuming is the capital building as well as other structures erected for the 1929 International Exposition. The place still seems like an exhibition in a lot of ways, attracting mostly tourists and disconnected significantly from the main city, but it is quite a grand space to be in.

As we got about half way up the hill, there started to be various installations within the landscape leading up to the Joan Miro Foundation Museum designed by Josep Lluis Sert.

Our next stop was an interesting above-ground cemetery. The place was like a labrynth. We couldn’t tell where it started or ended, but was actually a really pleasant place to be in. As we made our way up we were given great views of the city and the ocean below.

The signal tower below is by Calatrava. Built for the olympics in 1988. They wouldn’t let me go up.

We at long last arrived at the botanical gardens. It was a very new project by an old architect, Carlos Ferrater. This is where we get to architectural landscape ecology and modernism. I won’t bore you with a lot of rhetoric, but suffice it to say that until I saw this project I thought that those two concepts were utterly opposed to each other. But to see this Mies style building overlooking the gardens was a thing of beauty, and the two seemed totally in harmony with each other. And if I hadn’t been utterly exhausted by the time we got there I probably would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. I may have to take a second trip.


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La Sagrada Familia

May 26, 2009
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Today’s walk was fairly short, including only two sites, but they were intense projects that I would say justify a whole day. I’ll start from the end and work my way back. We went to the Hospital de Sant Pau. It was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner at the beginning of the 20th century. The hospital complex made me think a lot of Gaudi’s work. It was a very peaceful place where you could imagine people don’t mind being cooped up while being treated. An anomole in a world full of cold, poorly conceived big box hospitals covering the globe. There’s aparently a lot of talk about turning it into a museum. Idiots. Aparently good architecture is so rare in the world, they all have to be museums lest they get used for something other than tourism.

We then went to Gaudi’s masterpiece. La Sagrada Familia. A project that consumed all of his later life until his death in the 1920’s. An interesting side note is that his design for the building coincided with trajic deaths of his friends and family members. He turned down all secular projects and devoted himself to this sanctuary. He only completed the north facade in his lifetime. Since then, a similar south facade was erected, but a stark contrast is evident. There was an intenseness in Gaudi’s work, perhaps stemming from his personal connection with the project, that couldn’t be replicated, unfortunately.

The building is massive, but the amazing thing is that the model shows it nearly twice as tall upon completion. Absolutely unreal. It’s slated for completion in 2026, on the anniversary of Gaudi’s death. If and when it happens, I’ll definitely be coming back. Pretty remarkable.


Posted in Barcelona_09

In the Studio

May 25, 2009
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We went over our first assignment in studio today. The task was to take plans and sections of the Santa Caterina Market and find ways to reinterpret them through a particular reference within modern art. The parameters of the assignment were very loose, which was evident as we put our work on the table. The results varied quite a bit, which provided for a pretty interesting and lively discussion about the work.

A lot of emotions are in play as you prepare to present work to a group. I had an interesting experience with one of my professors. He had liked one of my ideas very much, and he said to me, “you must have been really confident going into that review.” I had been scared out of my mind! Doesn’t matter how much time and effort I’ve put into something, there’s always a part of me that’s nervous about how the discussion will go and what the reactions will be. Even though this review was pretty low key, I think you can see expressions of what I’m talking about in some of our faces. But more than the nerves I think you can discern a pretty intense focus. It’s a really remarkable thing for a group of people to struggle together with a common question, and then make strides to understand it better. A pretty good way to spend the morning I think.


Posted in Barcelona_09

Church in Spain

May 24, 2009
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For those of you who don’t know, my religion is a big part of my life. I won’t go into the particulars of my beliefs, you can find a link to those in the side bar if you’re curious, but it was pretty neat to be able to attend a service with a congregation on the other side of the world, in a language that I don’t speak, but be totally in tune with what was happening. I’ve done this a few times in Europe, South America and Southeast Asia. Each time has its own peculiarities. For instance, in the States, our church would almost never be part of a larger building or set in an urban area for that matter, but everything of significance was very familiar and comfortable. The architecture wasn’t so interesting, but it was a piece of home in a new place. You need that sometimes I think.


Posted in Barcelona_09

Festival at the Market

May 23, 2009
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So I went down to Sta Caterina this morning to make some headway on our drawing assignment. For how great the market is, there’s very few people who actually frequent it, opting instead to go to the market on the tourist heavy Ramblas. So I’m thinking, I’ll go down there, have my pick of where to sit and sketch and have some time left to do whatever. I apparently was the only person in Barcelona who wasn’t aware this weekend was some kind of big deal (I still don’t know what the big deal was), but everyone was dressed up very “authentically” and selling all kinds of useless little trinkets to the passing tourists. Needless to say, I got little to nothing done, but had a good time looking at the stands and buying myself some good ham.

As I was walking around I thought a lot about similar events in similar cities. My professor had mentioned something to us a couple of days ago about how the historic city is more for tourists, while the “real city” is emerging around it. Putting that in the context of other historic cities (Istanbul and Agra come to mind), I’d say that’s a pretty good take. In Istanbul, for instance, you’ll find some beautiful areas that sell trinkets and have performances, but much of the city is crappy housing projects and squatter settlements that a good portion of the people reside in. One’s no more “real” than the other, they just operate differently.

I guess my line of thought is this. I don’t really like being in this part of the city. You’re always getting heckled by someone trying to sell you something (most often some fabricated cultural artifact), making it impossible to explore the city for yourself. I think the fellows below are a decent example. They come out to play for the tourists and hopefully get tips. I contrast these characters with the ones I see playing in the subways and the difference is night and day. They’re doing the same thing, but for a different crowd. Probably not making as much money as the former, but in my opinion quite a bit better for the most part. More importantly its part of the city that would exist without the tourists. It’s a nice glimpse of some authenticity, but these other guys are fun to take pictures of, I must admit.


Posted in Barcelona_09

Getting Around

May 22, 2009
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This is gonna be a shorter post. I had a small emergency that took up a part of my day. The other part constituted getting a much needed haircut, hardly blog worthy. But I do think it’s worth posting the part of the city that’s easy to overlook, but really makes my journey possible. The metro system in Barcelona is probably the best that I’ve seen anywhere. It’s clean, efficient (trains come every 2-3 minutes) and reaches every part of the city. The city is huge and it would only take me about 30 minutes to get from one side to the other. Pretty remarkable really. And if there weren’t so many pickpockets roaming the trains, I really wouldn’t have anything bad to say about it.

One interesting thing about any public transportation is the people you observe. They come from all walks and are more or less trying to ignore you. Mostly its interesting to see all the couples on the trains. It’s like an underground hotel. I know its a cultural thing, but come on, get a room.


Posted in Barcelona_09
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I'm a young aspiring architect. This blog is a record of my journey in this great profession.

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