Barcelona’s Wondrous Architecture

October 24, 2017

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On The HUNT Barcelona writer Ben Holbrook’s first day in Barcelona, he rose early, visibly shaking with excitement and ready to really get to know his new home. He walked in Gràcia past Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, and roamed La Rambla, darting down random rabbit warrens that led him to Gothic cathedrals and Roman ruins. Ben eventually landed on the beach, where avant-garde hotels and office buildings line the water’s edge. It was on this walk that he fell hook, line and sinker in love with this city and its architectural treasures. When you’re in town and itching to see what you can see off the tourist path, these are his recommendations.

Casa Vicens. Image via venue website.

If your primary focus is on getting to know Gaudí, head to Casa Vicens, his first commissioned house. Its Eastern exoticism and opulent Moorish design is void of the curved lines and outlandish detailing that Gaudí later became so famous for, but the experimental playfulness clearly exhibits the beginnings of his

groundbreaking seminal works.

CMT Building. Image via Wikimedia.

To understand why Barcelona is such an important player within the contemporary design sphere, stroll through the streets of El Poblenou. The area’s much heralded 22@Barcelona urban transformation project has filled the district with futuristic workspaces. The towering Torre Glòries (formerly Torre Agbar), with its flashing multi-colored surface, is the most famous, but I also recommend the CMT Building, which looks like a giant metal honeycomb, and the biospheric Media-TIC Building, which, with its innovative covering that allows it to automatically cool down or heat up, minimizing its energy consumption, is the stuff of green design dreams.

Nearby, Els Encants Vells houses the oldest flea market in Europe. Don’t let its age fool you though: the new building is surprisingly modern, featuring a space-age mirrored roof that bounces natural light around and protects the stalls from the elements. It’s spectacularly beautiful as well as practical.

Santa Catarina Market. Image via barcelona-home.com

Similarly, at Santa Caterina Market in El Born, the original façade has been brought back to its former glory with dark-stained carpentry and traditional symmetrical archways. But it’s been transformed into a wonderfully singular building by its sinuous, shell-like roof. Propped up on spindly metal legs, it

undulates over the entire market and features an explosion of colored ceramics that mirror the vibrancy of the produce below.
About The HUNT Barcelona Writer: Born and raised in South Wales’ Gower Peninsula, Ben Holbrook spent much of his youth exploring the world with his travel agent parents. His first job was stacking brochures in his mother’s office, which may explain why he ended up becoming a travel writer himself. Ben moved to Barcelona in 2009, and when he isn’t writing about his adoptive home city on his blog, driftwoodjournals.com, he can be found hunting out new cultural and culinary experiences around the world, writing for various international publications and indulging in his penchant for good wine and craft beer.

For more great insider recommendations, pick up The HUNT Barcelona on gatehousepublishing.com.

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