Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona
Palau De La Música Catalana And Hospital De Sant Pau, Barcelona
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Cultural Spain Europe And North America Province Of Barcelona, Autonomous Community Of Catalonia

These two monuments are masterpieces of the imaginative and exuberant Art Nouveau that flowered in early 20th century. The Palau de la Música Catalana has uniqueness, authenticity, and beauty and it is an unparalleled testimony, in the Modernist style, to a public concert hall whose symbolic, artistic, and historical value is universal. The Hospital de Sant Pau is the outstanding example of its type of exceptional interest because of its beauty, size and unique architectural design.

The inspiration of the Palau de la Música CataIana was the concept of the choir of Orfeo Catalá that emerged during the Barcelona Universal Exhibition of 1888. The performance of Catalan music formed part of the overall political movement to resurge of Catalan nationalism. In October 1904 the choir acquired a site in Calle de Sant Pere Més Alto and commissioned Doménech i Montaner, then at the peak of his career, as architect of its new building. Construction began in 1905 and was completed three years later. He had already begun work at that time on the Hospital de Sant Pau. In 1892 a Paris banker of Catalan origin, Pau Gil, left a large sum of money in his will for the construction of a hospital in his native city, to be named in honour of his patron saint.

The Palau de la Música Catalana is one of the most emblematic buildings of Art Nouveau (Modernism), exceptional both for its qualities and its setting in the historic centre of Barcelona. It was outstanding from the moment of its conception because of two factors that were to be of great future importance: a special concept of space and a very intelligent use of new technologies developed during the Rationalist revolution. The Palau was the most important source of an architectural concept of great future relevance: the reticulated metallic structure, free floor space, and non-load-bearing outer walls like continuous curtains of glass. The entire building was designed as an intelligent interplay of spaces stemming from the abrupt separation between the exterior and the interior and making maximum use of natural light.

The use of a steel framework makes it possible for the internal floor plan to be free and with a series of large open spaces, in particular the great concert hall. In this way the Palau de la Música Catalana became an exceptional example of the fusion of two basic concepts: tradition and modernity elevated to the level of art. The coming together of music and architecture is clearly manifested in the Palau de la Música Catalana. Several of the most important artists and craftsmen of the time contributed to the Palau, such as the sculptors Pau Gargallo, Francesc Modollel, Miguel Blay, and Eusebi Aranau;the mosaicists Lluís Bru, Francesc Labarta and Mario Maragliano;the painter Miguel Massot, and the stained-glass artist Jeroni Granell. The relationships between architect and artists was intimate and constructive:especially harmonious is the concert hall, with its great inverted dome of painted glass, where the lavish decoration contributes to the spatial continuity and integrity.

From a historiographical point of view, the Hospital de Sant Pau is of immense importance because it is the largest hospital complex in Modernist style. Historically, the Hospital de Sant Pau, at one and the same time original and daring, demonstrates how Doménech i Montaner had studied the problem of modern hospitals. Work began in 1901 and by 1911 eight blocks of the complex had been built and were in use. In 1913 the architect brought his son, Pere Doménech i Roura, into the project, and they worked together on the church and further hospital blocks until Lluis Domènech i Montaner's death in 1923. Pere Doménech i Roura was responsible for completion of the project, which continued until 1930.

The architect planned to erect 48 individual buildings in a quadrilateral. Its floral decoration and abundant use of sculptures by the best artists of the period emphasize in a remarkable way the structure of the buildings. Doménech i Montaner's value as the creator of architectural volumes is also revealed by light. For Doménech i Montaner it was essential to be able to give sick people a feeling of well-being and beauty, which would most certainly contribute to an early convalescence, as according to him beauty has therapeutic value. After almost a century of existence and uninterrupted public use, the Hospital de Sant Pau has international prestige from both the medical and the architectural and artistic points of view.

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