It’s been a week since I’ve been back from Barcelona- I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to write about it. Before I went I heard it would be amazing, and being there I found this was true.  I kept declaring to myself that I have to move here someday. We were only there for 3 full days (which felt more like a few hours), there was so little that I saw and so much I have yet to see, and it was still the coolest city I’ve been to. I also loved being in a place where Spanish (or Castilian as the Catalunyans say) is spoken, since I know much more of that than Italian. Btw- this song should be listened to while reading this post.

Our apartment in Vicenza is definitely nice, but the one in Barcelona was even better. This was our view:

Each day, we met early and spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon walking around with the class looking at cool buildings. The first day we went to the Poblenou district, which is the old industrial part of the city that’s being renovated with a bunch of awesome new buildings. We had an itinerary of a few buildings to see but we kept happening upon cool ones that weren’t in the schedule, they’re everywhere:

Agbar Tower, Jean Nouvel. This building is supposed to be a symbol for the neighborhood and I think it is- it stands out in a landscape of smaller buildings. It’s also famous for looking like a phallic symbol.If you can get past that, it has a nice skin and some cool interior light, but none of us really liked this building.

Media Tic by cloud 9- this building was really cool for its skin and its structure. The whole building is supported by an exterior structure, and the large space on the bottom floor you see has no columns and all the floors are suspended above you. Also, those green triangles on the outside are sensitive to light and inflate to keep some of the sunlight out if it’s too bright.

Can Framis by Jordi Badia- we happened upon this museum, right across from Media Tic.

Happening upon some more cool buildings, I’m not sure what they were

The Forum by Herzog and de Meuron, this building was surprisingly bad. It was massive and seemed so empty, and the exterior skin was a really wierd material that reminded me of blue gorilla glue. It had a few nice parts though, it was interesting how it sat in the ground and it was cool to walk underneath it and see the huge lightwells.

The park outside the forum was cool.

The next day, we saw a classic landmark of Barcelona:

Gaudi, duh!

It was pretty sweet though.

This is the building I researched beforehand, the Santa Caterina market! EMBT is really awesome, they have lots of projects in Barcelona, this one might be the most visited:

Enric Miralles is known for having amazing drawings, there’s like one book about their firm in the library here, I think I need to check it out…

Leslie and I decided to choose our site in Barceloneta, which is where we went on our last day. It’s the oldest part of Barcelona and used to house people related to the fishing industry, but lots of renovations have been done there and now there’s a good combination of old and new.

The boardwalk, with a view of Frank Gehry’s fish sculpture

The residential part of Barceloneta.

Mercat de la Barceloneta- yet another awesome market in this city

Of course, we went to the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Van der Rohe.

I bought a guide of contemporary architecture of Barcelona in the gift shop there. There’s so much I didn’t see. A lot of us want to go back. Like I said, I want to move there.

Unfortunately  the economy is really bad- After we saw the Barcelona Pavilion, we got to visit the office of Octavio Mestre. He told us all his projects are in other countries right now. He said in times without many projects, his office started making books about their projects, which seems like a really good idea in bad times. He gave us lots of good advice, things like:

-Be confident with your gut. Unlike your head, your gut knows shit.

-You will make many more mistakes saying yes than saying no.

-Know where you want to go with your life. Read, travel, work hard.

-You have to be free enough to reconsider everything.

-You only love those that hurt you (he talked about architecture, life, everything- he loves to talk).

He also has this website that’s like a forum for architecture– I’ve been so busy that I haven’t even looked at it till now. He encouraged us to add to it. He also gave us his email- maybe when I’m looking for an internship I’ll contact him.

Models and the view from Octavio Mestre’s office

Since I’ve been back, work has started on our hotel, we’ve done presentation of our sketches from Barcelona, we’ve visited the Villa Rotunda by Palladio, had Italian class, I started reading Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, and I had to get over being sick. It’s generally been really busy and I still feel like I’m catching up. Tomorrow I have things due for studio, sketching, and our first Italian test. I’ve also had the feeling that I need to focus more- even in Barcelona, I felt distracted by everything, and I still feel like that. I keep getting the message that you need to know where you’re going, know what you want, and sometimes I know but sometimes I just feel overwhelmed. I need to have certain things I’m looking for, I need to explore and have things to help guide me. I think mostly what will help me is sketching, photographing, observing and then I can start producing, making conclusions, finding patterns in what I observe. I’m still figuring things out.

Until then- I have to prepare for class tomorrow. We all have a lot of work to do, later this week we’ll be in Switzerland and the Therme Vals- I’m so excited about that. We’re staying at the actual therme vals hotel for a night, which I’ve been looking forward to since d3 when Gundersen brought in his book about Peter Zumthor and the vals. I’ll keep you apdated.

Arrivederci,

-Elaina

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