Today we had studio which was pretty slow, but the real highlight of the day was the materials class. We went up to Montjuic, which is a place that we had already been. But today we got to see a brand new part of everything. We began by taking the subway and the funicular train up into the Montjuic area, and then got up and began the trek up the side of the mountain. We walked alongside the castle in the shade and really got a chance to enjoy once again the sea breeze and the glorious views.
Looking out over the industrial area, we learned that the Chinese really have a huge impact on the industry here. The Llobregat river was actually changed to help to connect things better and allow for the port to really be opened up. This area will continue to grow. Barcelona is a huge port for Europe, and also opens up Europe to the rest of anything that comes into the Mediterranean. It's a huge importer of gas and petrol. You can literally smell the industry from the walls of Montjuic.
There is a Greek theater in the gardens area, though despite its named (The Greek Theatre) it is not actually Greek. Montjuic used to have a large quarry, and much of the stone used in buildings in Barcelona comes from this quarry. It's only used in the summer, and is the only place that you can see the original rock cuts from the quarry. In addition the place has fantastic acoustics.
The next thing I want to talk about is the 1929 exhibition buildings. They are in a sort of Italian style, and have a tan sort of coating and use lots of ceramic (this is, after all, materials class so we quite often mention the use of materials). This Italian-ish style comes after the time of Gaudí and modernism. In a way, a decline of advanced ideas begins, and so eclectic arches begin to return and the use of all kinds of brick with some ceramic. Since the exhibition, the buildings have been turned into museums and theatres.
From the Pavilion we moved on to our final destination, the Caixa Forum. This is an interesting spot because there is a Forum similar to it in Madrid that we are going to see on the upcoming trip this weekend. The building that the Caixa Forum is in used to be an old textile factory, and thus has 2 big towers which were originally water towers for fire safety. After its construction finished in 1909 it was used as a factory, then was abandoned, then used by the police, and then abandoned, and then used by the Caixa bank, as it is now. Caixa Bank, one of the larger banks in Barcelona and I would assume Spain, hired a Japanese architect to create an underground space that had a very defined entryway that would eventually lead you into a cultural/social center. There is no direct entryway from the street; you actually have to go down escalators to get to the huge revolving door that you enter in. One issue with this entryway is that the floor is limestone from Italy. Limestone decays quite easily because it is soft, and also gets dirty extremely easily. Generally it would not be used for a floor. Lesson learned; it pays to know your rocks!
The story behind Caixa always having these social/cultural centers was because there was some financial advantage of getting tax breaks or something. However, our teacher speculated that since the economy is not so good right now, they will be turned into banks soon and the social centers will no longer exist, which is really a shame.