May 06, 2009


Saturday May 2nd was our last day in Barcelona, but since our flight was not due to take off until 19:20hrs, we still had a day to fill and headed for Parc Guell. This was a mistake.

It was a mistake to head to Gaudi's Parc Guell on a sizzling Spanish summer saturday when at least half the population of Spain, and most of the tourists within 1000miles also had the same idea. Crowded; just a little.

The pity was that much of the Gaudi architecture now lay behind or beneath the sunning masses who stood in front of it, sat on it, or otherwise covered it. Yes, I suppose Gaudi intended them to do exactly that, but it didn't help me to view it or photograph it. I gave up trying to photograph IT and chose instead to photograph THEM.

When I had had enough of tripping over kids in or out of prams, I suggested to Juris that we should head off somewhere else and he wanted to go to CaixaForum near to Espanya Metro.

The structure of CaixaForum was an old textile factory that had been turned into an exhibition space, and what a joy of red brick, pinnacles, and glass it was. The undulating roof space provided excellent views over sun-drenched Barcelona.

Inside we visited 3 exhibitions. The Mersad Berber. Retrospectiva was a slightly strange experience of almost life-size semi nude men and Horses! I don't mean that to sound disapproving because the work had a certain quality and a definite character. In time it could grow on me.

By contrast, Richard Rogers + Arquitectes. De la casa a la ciutat reinforced my intolerance of modern architects. I remember the Lloyds Tower opening in London and the Pompidou Centre in Paris and we were all told that this was 'Post-Modernism'. At the time we all nodded our heads and pretended to understand what 'Modernism' had been and therefore we knew what 'Post Modernism' was. But it was all tosh really, deep down we all thought the buildings had been constructed inside out and weren't at all good looking.

Last autumn I revisted the Lloyds Tower, now 20-odd years old and looking so much the worse for it. Downright tatty in my view, not cleaned (it would be impossible), and now standing shabbily in the shadows of that great glass penis known as 'The Gherkin' (you can see the Barcelona version 'Torre Agbar' here). I was pleased to see that about 60per cent of the Rogers projects never reached construction stage, and I became even more cynical when reviewing his projects and uncovering his wilful abuse of each site for his own purposes.

Gaudi is a God by comparison. Organic, aesthetic, original, and using earth-borne materials and biological forms in place of the dead stuff and broken pieces of spacecraft that Rogers uses.

A dash back to Aparthotel Gutenberg to collect luggage, and then BCN Aeropuerto bound for LBA on and home to Bradford.

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