In Barcelona, SPAIN, although municipal regulations make building on Montjuic – the mountain between the city and the sea – almost impossible, the Barcelona municipality is nonetheless keen to incorporate this green area into the city’s leisure network. The only way to do so is by re-using and revitalizing existing structures in order to give new initiatives a place. A recent example is the conversion of the Miramar building. It dates from the 1970s and is a well known point of reference in the city, visible from far away. When the restaurant it housed was recently converted into a Chinese one, it was up to the Italian-Portugese team of Federico Calabrese, Fabio Ferone and Joana Carvalho to safeguard the quality of at least the exterior spaces of the complex and of the transformation of the upper part.
The architects took into account the two completely different ‘faces’ of the site they had to redefine. They turned the higher panoramic level into a maritime deck with a little bar overlooking the Mediterranean and the port, while the lower area is now an intimate garden (with bamboo, of course), between the rear facade of the restaurant and the rocky ‘retaining wall’ of the hill. The ambivalence of the genius loci (‘high up on the mountain’ or ‘in the shelter of the slopes’) is reflected by the tectonics of the used materials: the light steel and glass construction of the bar and the teak wood of the platform relate to the sea and the sky while the slate stone of the walls and the square platforms in the garden breathe earthly solidity.
The design connects with the styling of other modern bars and restaurants in the area: eclectic and informally elegant. The detailing, though, was inspired by an older ‘modern’ building and another major Montjuic attraction: Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona pavilion.