The Glòries tower, formerly Agbar, is without a doubt one of the symbols of Barcelona. This is not the only Jean Nouvel project in the city, though.
Not far away from the tower, on the Diagonal avenue, there’s the fantastic Poblenou park, a green area of shadow with plenty of trees and flowers of all kinds.
And then, close to the city centre, there’s Fàbrica Moritz, a former beer factory turned into a restaurant.
The 34-storey-high building was designed in 2005 as the headquarters of the municipal water company Aguas de Barcelona (Agbar).
4,400 windows and over 56,000 transparent and translucent glass plates are covering the tower, and the louvres are tilted at different angles calculated to divert the direct sun light. 4,500 lights illuminate the facade at night, while the 25 different shades of the aluminium panels give it colour by day.
The phallic character of Torre Glòries is obvious and even Jean Nouvel discussed this in detail, in 2005, when interviewed after the tower finally opened. As a result of its unusual shape people usually call it el supositori (the suppository).
“This is not a tower. It is not a skyscraper in the American sense of the expression: it is a unique growth in the middle of this rather calm city. It is a fluid mass that has perforated the ground – a geyser under a permanent calculated pressure. The surface of this construction evokes the water: smooth and continuous, but also vibrating and transparent because it manifests itself in coloured depths – uncertain, luminous and nuanced. This architecture comes from the earth but does not have the weight of stone” Jean Nouvel says.
Parc del Poblenou
Close to the tower, the Parc Central del Poblenou – a naturalistic architectural jewel combining a great diversity of environments, was designed by Jean Nouvel’s French studio in collaboration with local architect Fermín Vázquez (b720), and opened in 2008.
The park is surrounded by walls covered with bougainvilleas, separating the area from the surrounding streets and creating a vivid contrast with the steel and glass architecture around.
Inside, trees, plant vaults and domes offers shadow, and the area is subdivided into several sites, including playgrounds, sitting areas, lanes shadowed by willow trees, a floral cascade and even a lily dome covering the street which divides the site in two.
“The story of Poble Nou Park is written in the language of shades. From subdued shades, punctuated with patterned sparks of sunlight, to black shadows created by walls that assert the geometry of their boundaries, from jagged shadows moving around openings in the foliage to square pattern shadows underneath the plaited lianas, from glistening water-shadows to the profound matte shadows of a far-away place, of undergrowth” the architects say.
The building that, once, was the factory of Moritz beer, now hosts a microbrewery with a gastronomic and events space. This is a great destination for beer tasting and affordable dishes signed by Michelin-starred chef Jordi Vilà.
Even though today most of the production of Moritz is carried out in the Ambar brewery in Aragon, the company headquarters and registered address is still at this historic building on 41 Ronda de Sant Antoni. In 2011, the descendants of the brewing family entrusted Jean Nouvel to transform the historical factory into a gastronomical space. Fàbrica Moritz spans over 4,000 square metres and the interior is a blend of exposed brick and cement combined with contemporary touches. The interior patio features a vertical garden designed by Patrick Blanc, French botanist and modern innovator of the green wall .
The beer is brewed daily here, in plain sight of visitors who can witness the brewing process, and the bar serves this fresh, unpasteurized beer. As all design elements, even the draught taps are custom-made.
The project reveals the beauty of the industrial architecture with its brickwork, concrete, old machinery, goods lift, or colourful patterned tiles, whilst steel surfaces like the 25-metres-long bar for seafood and raw fish, glass dividers or light surfaces, are Nouvel’s touch of the space.
I strongly recommend you visit the underground to see the beer installations as well as some original installations such as this vertical divider created with, well, beer bottles.
French architect Jean Nouvel graduated in 1972 from Paris Beaux-Arts school and his projects can be seen in numerous cities around the world, from Abu Dhabi where he designed the Louvre to Sydney (One Central Park), and from Berlin (Galeries Lafayette) to Madrid (the extension of Reina Sofia Museum). This is just to name a few. And by all means, if you want to have the complete view of Nouvel’s designs in Barcelona, check his 110-metres-high Renaissance Hotel Fira as well.
Sources: Torre Glòries: Wikipedia | Parc del Poblenou: Jean Nouvel | Arquitectura y Empresa (Es.) | Fàbrica Moritz: Fàbrica Moritz | Patrick Blanc
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