Cutting edge design and architecture are characteristics that Barcelona has always cultivated and revealed. The Gothic quarter, the heaving Ramblas, the vestiges of Catalan Modernism that colour and foster the aesthetics of the city: signs of an inclination towards experimentation and the cutting edge – characteristics which come to symbolise a place.
While the architecture and urban ideals seem to predominate, the experimental contemporary nature of Barcelona can be found in the flourishing of institutions that, rather than focusing on a glorious past, seek to interpret the present through an all-seeing eye that comprises the arts. In fact, the city has many public and private spaces that are focused on the contemporary, genuine sources of experimentation and different tongues.
CCCB is the acronym by which the Barcelona Centre for Contemporary Culture is known. It was created to explore the topic of the city’s urban culture through exhibitions, debates, festivals, concerts, film competitions, courses and conferences.
The building which houses all of this was a church, monastery, Jesuit seminary, barracks, prison and, lastly, home to one of the main 19th century charities, the ‘Casa de Caritat’. Until it closed in 1957, it could hold over 2,000 people and many of its self-funded production and craft activities. The architectural project that saw its rebirth in the 90s combined the old tiered structures with an ultranew rectangular glass covered block, a kind of mirror for the urban landscape around it and a lookout over the city.
Meanwhile, ‘Bombon’ is the name of a contemporary art gallery with its perfect little spaces filled with creativity, which brings together local and international artists, blending the old and new generations to reflect on a social, political and emotional awareness of art.
The idea of creating a sense of community among a variety of artists is achieved through the organisation of exhibits, presentations, screenings, shows and even more intimate events in which even meals can comprise part of the programme.
Returning to the large scale, the American star Richard Meier is the man behind the MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona), stating its objective to be the creation of a freer society that is capable of critical thinking through art, of course!
Inaugurated in 1995 with a collection of just over 1,000 works (although it now contains over 5,000) from the mid 20th century, the MACBA shines a light on the recent past while aiming to build a future.
The building is known as the “pearl” for the candour of its shapes, in which light plays a key architectural role. It is also known for its profile among the Gothic buildings in the area and the little side streets. It brilliantly manages to both amalgamate and incorporate itself into its context, the result of a combination of straight lines and curves which conjure the rationalism of Le Corbusier, though these are smoothed out by that light reaching into the building through the open galleries and large skylights.
Photo Elisa Imperi (www.itm.srl)