Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
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 also for the citizens of the city, for culture enthusiasts and also for conference attendees, for young people and for 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
Light and shade of Moorish and Gothic architecture, caves, water and leaves.
The Forum as anchor: a huge area on the seaward edge of the old town is under development.
Sea view or plaza: sketches and models for a highrise and a lowrise building. The roof of the flat building is pierced by lightwells.
Models for lightwells, their forms distorted by a dual geometric alignment.
In this building, the architects have evoked the nearby sea, giving the blue-pigmented facade a coral-like surface texture.
The chrome cladding on the underside of the ceiling shows passers-by a foamy pattern.
The surface of the facade and the glazed inserts are tested in a 1:1 mock-up.
Floor plans with auditorium, plaza and roof; the distance between floor and ceiling varies.
A loadbearing bridge structure capable of a large span is used for the steelframed building.
The Forum is a social hub for congress participants and locals alike.
Foyers, courtyards, auditorium and atriums that cut into the facade.
- Project Team
- David Koch (Associate, Project Architect)
- Nuno Ravara (Project Architect)
- Miguel Rodríguez Martínez (Project Architect)
- Stephan Wedrich (Project Architect)
- Nicholas Lyons (Project Architect)
- Carlos Bautista
- Aeneas Bracklo
- Béla Berec
- Marcos Carreño
- Maria Flaccavento
- Alexander Franz
- Silvia Gil
- Albert Gonzalez Aregall
- Lilian Harig
- Lilian Lyons
- Matthias Hilgert
- Blanca Hueso
- Ana Alexandra Inacio
- Luis Játiva
- Ana Marques Duarte
- Marta Mitjans
- Julio Muñoz
- Holger Othmar
- Christopher Nicholas Pannett
- Aurora Rebollo
- Mònica 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
- Construction Management (Technical Architect): Ibering, Barcelona, Spain
- Structural Engineering: R. Brufau, Barcelona, Spain
- Structural Engineering: WGG Schnetzer Puskas Ingenieure, Basel, Switzerland
- MEP Engineering: : JGA, Joan Gallostra, Barcelona, Spain
- MEP Engineering: Waldhauser AG, Basel, Switzerland;
- MEP Engineering: Francesc Labastida, Barcelona, Spain
- Specialist / Consulting
- Acoustic Consulting: Estudi Acústic H. Arau, Barcelona, Spain
- Facade Consulting: Biosca & Botey, Barcelona, Spain; Mernie, S.A., Barcelona, Spain
- Facade Consulting : Talleres Inox, Barcelona, Spain
- Render Facade: Asoes Condal, Barcelona, Spain
- Lighting Consulting: Isometrix, London, UK
- Stainless Steel Ceiling (Manufacturer & Engineering): Detlef Schobert, Inox Color, Walldürn, Germany
- Stainless Steel Ceiling (Installer): Lummel, Karlstadt, Germany
- Construction Details: J.T. Ardèvol & Assoc., Barcelona, Spain
- Building Data
- Site Area: 172'222 sqft, 16'000 sqm
- Gross floor area (GFA): 484'375 sqft, 45'000 sqm
- Footprint: 172'222 sqft, 16'000 sqm
- Gross volume (GV): 4'944'058 cbft, 140'000 cbm
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Matteo Poli, Mirko Zardini: “Barcelona Forum 2004.” In: Stefano Boeri (Ed.). “Domus. Rivista mensile di Architettura, Design, Arte e Informazione.” Vol. No. 866, Milan, Domus S.p.A., 01.2004. pp. 26-47.
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