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The star architects go to the sea at Museu Maritim of Barcelona

The Museu Maritim of Barcelona shows plans and models of ships designed by Le Corbusier, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Alvar Aalto, among others.

“Ships. Architecture in the sea”, an exhibition that brings together plans, photographs and models of some of the boats designed by some ten of these star architects at the Museu Maritim of Barcelona.
In addition to shaping the horizon and testing the heights, renowned architects such as Le Corbusier, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Alvar Aalto and Norman Foster have dared to sail the seas and change the stability of the foundations for the ever-changing mood of the ocean. Two elements in which the majority have developed with identical ease.


According to the curator, Benjamín Pleguezuelos, the exhibition aims to explore “how architects have been able to understand the design and spaces of boats and have faced up to this challenge” and, at the same time, to note “the enormous similarities between the way these architects have conceived a building or a boat”.


There are, for example, the dazzling super luxury yachts designed by the Iranian Zaha Hadid for the German construction company Blohm+Voss or her Z Boat, maritime extensions of her most innovative and breakthrough designs. Or the abandoned boat that Le Corbusier transformed into a floating asylum dedicated to the homeless, with 160 beds and a soup kitchen, which sank last year in the Seine after two decades of neglect.

Panthalassa 184 (2009) FOSTER + PARTNERS

The exhibition, a co-production of the Museu Maritim of Barcelona and the Architects for Architecture association, will be open until 2 September and includes such unlikely projects as the floating auditorium created by Louis Kahn and the barge that the British architect Ralph Erskine turned the larch, titanium and glass sloop by Frank Gehry into his studio of architecture or the futuristic super yacht by Norman Foster.

Point Counterpoint II (1976) LOUIS KAHN

Particularly striking are the reinforced concrete boat that Pier Luigi Merli built in 1972 for the family holidays and the model of the inverted hull of a boat designed by the Danish Jorn Utzon, “with clear analogies with the type of geometries used for his most famous work, the Sydney Opera House”.

Nemo Profeta in patria ALVAR AALTO

Sometimes, Pleguezuelos points out, the involvement of an architect in naval engineering has its origin in a very specific need. This is the case of the Finn Alvar Aalto, who, “bought an island in the middle of a lake to build his house and needed a boat to access it”. Aalto redid the entire boat twice until he found the desired design and “of all his works, it was the project that required the most plans, more than five hundred”.


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