We recently read an article in the NY Times about designer’s frustrations with a lack of appreciation for good design. Its a common complaint by architects and designers that the subjective value of their work is overlooked. The risk and reward of design comes from its personal nature – taking a piece of your soul, putting it out there for the world and hoping it moves people. Architecture is about a creating an experience or emotion through the built environment. If you are a designer and need a reminder about why you got into this field read the full article.
Sometimes you stumble on a space that surprises you. We are notoriously addicted to boutique hotels. They offer cutting edge and modern design that you might not want to live with everyday (like a shower in your bedroom) but are fun experiments for a few days. At the Acta Mimic we came for the location and the playful architecture. What will brings us back though is little sunken courtyard at the back of the building, squished between its neighbours.
After sleeping in (as one does in Spain) or returning to rest your feet after a day of hiking the city, guests make their way to the basement for espresso. The heart of this space is the outdoor courtyard, tucked below ground, acting like a giant light well for the adjacent buildings. Perched in a simple chair in this space you are surrounded by Barcelona and not the built city but the people of Barcelona. The hotel side of the courtyard is shielded from view by a large graphic screen, with a pop-art, cartoon image reminiscent of a Gorillaz video. The other three sides of the courtyard surround you with the heart of the city, its people. From one balcony, the sounds and flashing lights of spanish cartoons flicker, a cat winds its way in and around the balcony rails. Overtop the white noise of whirring fans and rustling laundry, snippets of conversation, laughter and maybe even a morning disagreement echo into the courtyard. Windows are opened or closed depending on the time of day. Laundry is shaken and hung to dry from any surface available.
The smooth, almost sterile, simplicity of the modern architecture perfectly juxtaposes the pixelated fineness of real life. If you’re lucky, and we were, its sunny and warm. The mass of the buildings shield out most of the city sounds, creating a calm, serene space to do nothing but soak in the sights, sounds and smells of living in Barcelona.
Architect EQUIP Xavier Claramunt.
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