The Barcelona Pavilion (Catalan: Pavelló alemany; Spanish: Pabellón alemán; "German Pavilion"), designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain. This building was used for the official opening of the German section of the exhibition.
It is an important building in the history of modern architecture, known for its simple form and its spectacular use of extravagant materials, such as marble, red onyx and travertine. The same features of minimalism and spectacular can be applied to the prestigious furniture specifically designed for the building, among which the iconic Barcelona chair. It has inspired many important modernist buildings, including Michael Manser's Capel Manor House in Kent.
Mies's response to the proposal by von Schnitzler was radical. After rejecting the original site because of aesthetic reasons, Mies agreed to a quiet site at the narrow side of a wide, diagonal axis, where the pavilion would still offer viewpoints and a route leading to one of the exhibition's main attractions, the Poble Espanyol.
The pavilion was going to be bare, no trade exhibits, just the structure accompanying a single sculpture and purpose-designed furniture (the Barcelona Chair). This lack of accommodation enabled Mies to treat the Pavilion as a continuous space; blurring inside and outside. "The design was predicated on an absolute distinction between structure and enclosure-a regular grid of cruciform steel columns interspersed by freely spaced planes". However, the structure was more of a hybrid style, some of these planes also acted as supports. The floor plan is very simple. The entire building rests on a plinth of travertine.
A southern U-shaped enclosure, also of travertine, helps form a service annex and a large water basin. The floor slabs of the pavilion project out and over the pool-once again connecting inside and out. Another U-shaped wall on the opposite side of the site also forms a smaller water basin. This is where the statue by Georg Kolbe sits. The roof plates, relatively small, are supported by the chrome-clad, cruciform columns. This gives the impression of a hovering roof. Robin Evans said that the reflective columns appear to be struggling to hold the "floating" roof plane down, not to be bearing its weight.
The Pavilion was not only a pioneer for construction forms with a fresh, disciplined understanding of space, but also for modelling new opportunities for an association of free art and architecture. Mies placed Georg Kolbe's Alba ("Dawn") in the small water basin, leaving the larger one all the more empty. The sculpture also ties into the highly reflective materials Mies used-he chose the place where these optical effects would have the strongest impact; the building offers multiple views of Alba. "From now on, in the sense of equality for juxtaposing building and visual work, sculptures were no longer to be applied retrospectively to the building, but rather to be a part of the spatial design, to help define and interpret it. To the day, one of the most notable examples is the Barcelona Pavilion".