Mies van der Rohe's historic Barcelona Pavilion will soon celebrate its 30th anniversary of its reconstruction, which took place during the 1980s. Since then, prominent architects and artists like SANAA, Andrés Jaque, and Ai Weiwei have temporarily altered the pavilion with "interventions", as a means of maintaining architectural experimentation and discussion of its space. To mark this anniversary, the Mies van der Rohe Foundation created the "Fear of Columns" competition.
The global contest sought the most fitting design for a temporary installation that specifically recreates the pavilion's eight columns and two side pedestals — all within a budget set at €15,000. According to the Foundation, the columns and side pedestals have long been considered significant elements in studying the Pavilion.
The winning proposal would then be realized in time for the 30th anniversary celebration on June 1. Starting out with 181 entries from 29 countries, the jury narrowed down the competition pool to 26 shortlisted entries, and finally to the four prize winners. The entry titled “I don’t want to change the world. I only want to express it” by architect Luis Martínez Santa-María from Madrid won the grand prize. The installation will be publicly displayed in front of the Barcelona Pavilion for five months.
The winning proposal won the jury's favor for the compelling way it "encapsulates the vertical component of the existing columns, in contrast to the horizontality of the Pavilion." They cited the winning entry as a contemporary approach that prioritizes sustainability and reuse, while simultaneously "express[ing] the provisional character of an ephemeral installation".
Winner Luis Martínez Santa-María describes his design as “sheet-steel drums, retrieved from chemical waste cemeteries, closely associated with today’s city and marked by recognizable signs, placed on top of each other and simply welded them together. They are new column tambours. They are also objets d’art, because time has undertaken to strip them of their paint and disfigure them, to deactivate their functionalism, thereby obtaining inimitable effects on their surfaces and in their dents. […] The multicoloured row of columns made of cast-away industrial drums also establishes an ironical relationship between the threats of the industrial landscape and the ambiguous, misguided beauty it reveals. Perhaps this would have pleased Mies, who once said: 'I don’t want to change the world. I only want to express it.'"
The following projects won the other three prizes:
SECOND PRIZE: Shades of Grey by Amir Shouri and Fereshteh Tabe | New York, USA
THIRD PRIZE: "Politics of the Myth" by Miguel Angel Díaz Camacho | Getafe, Spain
FOURTH PRIZE: "Paper Romance" by Nicoletta Faccitondo, Margherita Valente, Andrea Salvatore, Salvatore Dentamaro, Nicola Dario Baldassare, and Pasquale Cipri of Collettivo Arcipelago | Bari, Italy
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