Forum 2004 Building and Plaza
Barcelona, Spain
Competition 2000, project 2001-2002, realization 2002-2004

When we started in January 2001 with the design for the building to house the Barcelona Forum 2004, the site was a so-called “terrain vague”, urbanistically speaking a “no-man’s land”, with industrial installations, a residual water treatment plant and a petrol station. While it had some elements of exterior design, such as a sculpture that functioned as a fountain and a small park, there was still a lot of open, vacant land. According to the established schedule, in a period of three years, this entire area was to become part of the architecturally organized and well-defined city. The aim was to convert the chosen zone into the most important and significant district of 21st century Barcelona.

The site is located at the very end of the Avenida Diagonal, where it meets the Mediterranean coast and connects to a newly created gigantic artificial platform, spanning over the Ronda Litoral.

Barcelona is a European metropolis that through its history, climate and the customs of its inhabitants, is predestined to make use of its exterior space, according to its respective configuration, as a living urban location of its social interrelations. For this reason, we decided instead of planning the building as an independent object within an open space, we would propose a building that generates and structures this open space.

To allow for the maximum combination of functions, maximum flexibility and spatial interaction, we also decided that the program, such as the auditorium with 3,200 seats, large exhibition areas, foyer spaces, small administration areas and the restaurant should be organized horizontally.

With these ideas, the elevated flat triangular body emerged almost spontaneously, because it maximizes the possible footprint by forming an extensive cover for the plaza and perfectly expresses the specific situation of the land it occupies between the branches of the right-angled Cerda Grid and the Avenida Diagonal.

The open public space that emerges under the triangular body is thought as a hybrid space, a mixture of several urban typologies. A series of courtyards that cut through the elevated volume as well as the artificial platform establish multiple relations between the street level and the other levels of the building, while always permitting new angles of vision and a changing play of light. The shape of these courtyards derived again from the juxtaposition of the two directions of the grid of Cerda and the cut of the Diagonal.

In order to generate and maintain vitality and interrelation, additional program units are included, such as an open market space with a large fountain, a place for relaxation and meditation around a dripping water courtyard, a small intimate chapel, a bar, a kiosk and other simple facilities that complement the conference and exhibition centre. The buildings satisfy the needs of all social levels: for tourists and the citizens of the city; for culture enthusiasts and conference attendees; for young people and older people.

The interiors of the auditorium and the exhibition are designed as hybrid spaces, not only blurring the boundaries between exterior and interior, but which also easily adapt to the constantly changing program. The auditorium is neither a bare conference centre nor a philharmonic music hall; the exhibition area is neither a predictable convention centre nor a classical museum space. The atmosphere of these spaces will change with the program and the building will redefine itself accordingly.

The conception of a building with a coupling of interior and exterior space, as well as the flexibility of the program responds to the need for social durability from the collective point of view. The result is a building that is topography.
Herzog & de Meuron, 2004


Herzog & de Meuron Team:
Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Ascan Mergenthaler
Project Architects: David Koch (Associate), Nuno Ravara, Miquel Rodríguez, Stephan Wedrich, Nicholas Lyons
Project Team: Carlos Bautista, Aeneas Bracklo, Béla Berec, Marcos Carreño, Maria Flaccavento, Alex Franz, Silvia Gil, Albert Gonzalez, Lilian Harig Lyons, Matthias Hilgert, Blanca Hueso, Ana Inacio, Luis Játiva, Ana Marques, Marta Mitjans, Julio Muñoz, Holger Othmar, Christopher Pannett, Aurora Rebollo, Mónica Serra, Yoana Urralburu, Mika Woll

Ayuntamiento de Barcelona (represented by Infrastructures del Llevant de Barcelona S.A), Barcelona, Spain

Construction Managment : Herzog & de Meuron SL, Barcelona, Spain ; Technical Architect: Ibering, Barcelona, Spain
Structural Engineering: R. Brufau, Barcelona, Spain; WGG Schnetzer Puskas Ingenieure, Basel, Switzerland
MEP Engineering: JGA, Joan Gallostra, Barcelona, Spain; Waldhauser AG, Basel, Switzerland; Francesc Labastida, Barcelona, Spain

Specialist / Consulting:
Facade Consulting: Biosca & Botey, Barcelona, Spain; Mernie, S.A., Barcelona, Spain; Talleres Inox, Barcelona, Spain
Stainless Steel Ceiling: Manufacturer & Engineering: Detlef Schobert, Inox Color, Walldürn, Germany; Installer: Lummel, Karlstadt, Germany
Lighting: Isometrix, London, UK
Acoustics: Estudi Acústic H. Arau, Barcelona, Spain
Render Facade: Asoes Condal, Barcelona, Spain
Construction Details: J.T. Ardèvol & Assoc., Barcelona, Spain

Building Data:
Site Area: 16,000sqm / 172,224sqft
Building Footprint: 16,000sqm / 172,224sqft
Gross Floor Area: 45,000sqm / 484,379sqft
Building Dimensions: Building: 183x188x177m / 600x616x580ft

- Auditorium: 3200 seats
- Foyer
- Exhibition Space: approx. 8000 sqm
- Restaurant
- Chapel
- Bar
- Kiosk
- Market
- Elements of Water: Water-Courtyard, Fountains
- Water-Covered Roof


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Edited by: Gerhard Mack. Basel / Boston / Berlin, Birkhäuser, 2008. Vol. No. 4.

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