Mies van der Rohe Pavilion installation by SANAA



Japanese architects SANAA will create an installation at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona, Spain, this month.


The project will consist of acrylic curtains arranged in a spiral within the pavilion, reflecting and distorting views through the structure.


"We decided to make transparent curtains using acrylic material, since we didn’t want the installation to interfere in any way with the existing space of the Barcelona Pavilion," says Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA.


"The acrylic curtains rest lightly on the floor and adopt the form of a sinuous spiral. The curtain adapts smoothly to the Pavilion’s inner space to create a new atmosphere. The view through the acrylic material is rather different from the original one, in that it generates gentle reflections that slightly distort the Pavilion."

The installation will be open to the public from 26 November 2008 until 18 January 2009.

The following informatition is from the Mies van der Rohe Foundation:


(November 26 2008 – January 18 2009)|

The prestigious Japanese SANAA architecture studio, founded and run by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, has been selected by the Mies van der Rohe Foundation to create an installation for the Barcelona Pavilion in the winter of 2008-2009.

The installation, on which the Japanese studio has been working for several months, will be open to the public from November 26 2008 until January 18 2009.

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are known internationally for their subtle, meticulous architecture and for their ability to address complex projects through a deceptively simple approach. Their built works include the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York (2003-2007) and the Issey Miyake and Christian Dior stores on Tokyo’s main shopping avenue (2003). In 2004 they were awarded the Golden Lion at the IX Venice Biennale.

Installations at the pavilion
This piece forms part of what has become a firmly established programme of installations – conceived as light, short-duration exhibitions or interventions – at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion. The Pavilion provides the opportunity to work with creative formats that may occasionally be supplemented by other activities.

The periodical programming of installations at the Pavilion offers the city of Barcelona the chance to host unique works which, thanks to the creativity of both Spanish and international artists and architects, reinterpret and update one of its major cultural assets, the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion.

Other artists and architects who have executed installations for the Pavilion include Inaki Bonillas, Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Jeff Wall, Jerome Schlomoff, Ulrich Meister, Panamarenko, Angela Bulloch & Joachim Grommek, Lluis Casals, R.D. Adela, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster & Jens Hoffmann, Kay Fingerle, Philippe Terrier-Hermann, Thomas Ruff, Victor Burgin, Claude Rutault and Dennis Adams.

Kazuyo Sejima (Ibaraki, Japan, 1956) and Ryue Nishizawa (Kanagawa, Japan, 1966) worked independently from each other before founding the SANAA Ltd. studio in 1995. Having studied architecture at the Japan Women’s University, Sejima went on to work for the renowned architect Toyo Ito. She set up her own studio in 1987 and in 1992 was proclaimed Young Architect of the Year in Japan. Nishizawa studied architecture at the Yokohama National University. In addition to his work with Sejima, he has had his own practice since 1997.

The studio has built several extraordinarily successful commercial and institutional buildings, civic centres, homes and museums both in Japan and elsewhere. These include the O Museum in Nagano (1999) and the N Museum in Wakayama (1997), the Day-Care Center in Yokohama (2000), the Prada Beauty Store in Tokyo and Hong Kong (2001), the Issey Miyake and Christian Dior Building in Tokyo (2003) and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa (2004). Sejima also designed the famous Small House in Tokyo (2000), the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion, Toledo, Ohio (2001-2006), the extension to the Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Valencia, Spain (2002 - ), the Zollverein School, Essen, Germany (2003-2006), the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2003-2007) and the Novartis Campus WSJ-157 Office Building, Basle, Switzerland (2003 - ).

In 2004 Sejima and Nishizawa were awarded the Golden Lion at the 9th Venice Architecture Biennale for their distinguished work on the Metamorph exhibition.

The Mies van der Rohe Foundation
Founded in 1983 by the Barcelona City Council, the Mies van der Rohe Foundation’s initial mission was to reconstruct the German Pavilion designed and built for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969). In addition to conserving and promoting the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, the Foundation fosters debate on contemporary architecture and urbanism as well as striving to stimulate interest in and awareness of aspects related to these disciplines. It also encourages study of the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and of the Modern Movement in general. The Foundation organises awards, congresses, conferences, exhibitions, workshops and installations.

So far in 2008 the Foundation has programmed a film cycle under the title of Ciudades Asediadas (Besieged Cities), curated by Le Jeu de Paume; a poetry cycle curated by Antoni Mari; the Coup de Des architecture seminar, chaired on this occasion by Inaki Abalos; and the SANAA installation curated by Xavier Costa. Furthermore, preparations are under way for the 11th edition of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award, which will be presented in 2009.

More stories about SANAA on Dezeen:



SANAA and Alejandro Aravena at the Vitra Campus


New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York


SANAA Houses


SANAA for Alessi

Posted on Tuesday November 25th 2008 at 1:05 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • quik

    ha! they’re creating an invisible installation!
    can’t wait for the pictures of the real thing, hope to see something in those!

  • g

    I am a big fan of sanaa and this project definitely has their characteristic light touch. And I do like this approach – it seems like a slight deformation/distortion of one of mies perspectives drawings – but you have to wonder if there’s not some classic architectural slight of hand going on when one is hired to do an installation and doesn’t “want the installation to interfere in any way with the existing space”…

    …not to mention the fact that introducing even transparent ‘curtains’ will change the spatial qualities of the pavilion…

  • Chris

    SANAA is creating an installation to reflect and distort views through the structure. The structure already does this in itself. That is one of the reasons that it is so great to begin with. If it ain’t broke don’t mess with it.

  • J

    Sanaa + Mies = +1

  • g

    that’s a good point chris – the reflectivity of the stone/glass was definitely well considered…I’ll add another concern to my previous post – there is a slight smack of formula to this proposal, tho perhaps I shouldn’t be critical of someone having a consistent approach/language…

  • Henry

    Robert Irwin…

  • Vico

    If the architects have been invited to produce an installation for the pavilion, and their response is to do as little as possible to change one’s apprehension of the pavilion, what is the point of producing this work in the first place? I imagine that this is another classic case of new Emperor clothes.

    The renders displayed on enhance the absurdity. The pavilion itself is a reconstruction, the original was never intended to be a permanent work of archetypal architecture. At present, as lighting conditions change, the glass distorts and the interior changes its characteristics. When I was there a fireworks display was reflected in the glass.

    Perhaps SANAA are attempting to distort the spatial characteristics of the pavilion to extend its embodied ideas of endlessness and variation? If so this has been done many times in the past, most effectively by Koolhaas with his bent and stretched pavilion.

  • Nicolas

    how can you do something in the Mies pavilion without being critisized by someone??
    ….I like their approach!!

  • w

    mies’ spirit of “less is more” can be seen in this installation

  • juice

    Im fleeing the scene

  • I love the way of thinking of SANAA, they are the following story of Bauhaus Idea of our century.

  • waka

    nothing is more?

  • gaque

    booking my tickets to barcelona right now…

  • kaleb

    its no lesnikowski

  • peridothound

    …How would any installation NOT be an interference with the space? Really, just dropping in untouched acrylic is a light enough touch for this to be an impotent ‘conceptual art’ move – they aren’t making music with the phenomenology of that pavilion in any way that challenges perceptions or theories, it just a SANAA thing inside the pavilion.

    I wish they would have made a point to coat the acrylic with an incredibly light but reflective substance that would, due to the spiral and the pavilion itself, REALLY play into the reflection/reflective conditions. Instead of polishing up their product, they are going to have scratched, dully, dirty acrylic that will eventually be either put back into the warehouse or thrown out.