Extract of the interview to Paul Rudolph by the architect Peter Blake published in the Book 'Paul Rudolph: The Late Work".

"Peter Blake: And when architects try to organize it or give it some kind of form, they seem to ruin it.

Paul Rudolph: We have certain limitations as architects. That is part of what I mean by "spirit". It is the corrective factor of human intelligence, in all fields.

 

PB: So there we have it: site, scale, structure, function, and spirit. Have you noticed every time you talk about one of those things, you seem to touch upon or refer to Mies's Barcelona Pavilion in one way or another? Why is that?

PR: To me, the Barcelona Pavilion is Mies' greatest building. It is one of the most human buildings I can think of -a rarity in the twentieth century. It is really fascinating to me to see the tentative nature of the Barcelona Pavilion. I am glad that Mies really wasn't able to make up his mind about a lot of things - alignments in the marble panels, or the mullions, or the joints in the paving. Nothing quite lines up, all for very good reasons. It really humanizes the building.

 

PB: My guess is if he had had a chance to redesign it about twenty years later, he might have messed it up - made it too regular, aligned everything...

PR: Possibly. The courtyards and the interior space cast a spell on you which you will remember forever.

 

PB: If you were to put your finger on it, what do you think you learned from the Barcelona Pavilion?

PR: I made a few sketches that are meant to illustrate the impact of the actual building (as rebuilt in 1992 on the same site as the original 1929 Pavilion), which is very different from drawings, photos, etc. The Barcelona Pavilion is religious in its nature and is primarily a spatial experience. We have no accepted way of indicating space, and therefore the sketches made are very inadequate. One is drawn by the sequence of space through it. Multiple reflections of the twentieth century modify the architecture of light and unprecedented in architecture and the greatest of all of Mies' buildings.

 

PB: Your first drawing is a series of diagrams showing the circulation through the building. On the east is the more familiar entrance, used by the general public; on the west is the entrance for the King and Queen of Spain and used by other dignitaries at the time of the opening.

PR: Yes. The circulation from the east leads you up a flight of steps that leads to the platform on which the PAVILION STANDS. The flight of stairs is spatially compressed, and when you reach the top of the platform, the pool causes you to turn 180 degrees. This turn prepares you for the compressed entry with a glass wall on the right and the green. Tinian marble wall on the left, all modified by reflected trees. This squeezed space leads directly into the larger dominating space that contains the major function of the Pavilion. This flow of space continues all the way through the building in a highly disciplined way; nothing is left to chance. In my diagram the compressed space, the liberated space, the movement of space diagonally, vertically, and curved space modify the rectangular plan in a very clear and surprising fashion. The space is revealed but also hidden. The density of space is greater as it approaches the defining planes that form the Pavilion. The inward pull to the defining planes is offset by the reflective surfaces, so that most of the surfaces vibrate. I have tried to define the essential fluidity of these spaces and the interconnection of the inside and the outside. This highly disciplined flow of space is all-pervasive a natural constriction and release of space that leads you on everything is in motion, and you are carried along almost by unseen felt forces.

© Ria Morris, all rights reserved

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