The Pavello de la Republica Library, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona 3

Name of the Library: The Pavello de la Republica Library
Parent Organisation: The Learning and Research Resources Centre (CRAI) – University of Barcelona

Street Address: Av. Cardenal Vidal i Barraquer, 34-36, Barcelona Spain
Postal Address: 08035 Barcelona
Telephone : +34 934285457 (incl Country code)
Web Address http://crai.ub.edu/ca/coneix-el-crai/biblioteques/biblioteca-pavello-republica
Library Email bibrepublica@ub.edu

Type of Library: Special Library
Population served: University community and researchers specialized in contemporary history of Spain
Project type: Refurbishment
Size (square metres): 1.300 square metres
Date of Completion 1937 (original building) / replica of 1992
Architect Josep Lluis Sert and Luis Lacasa (original building of 1937)
Antoni Ubach, Miquel Espinet and Juan Miguel Hernandez Leon (replica of 1992)

Barcelona 1

Description
In 1937, while Civil War raged in Spain, the Republican government took part in the Exposition internationale des arts et techniques dans la vie moderne, popularly dubbed the Paris International Exposition of 1937. Civil war, however, led to changes in the blueprint for the project, which had initially been envisaged as a showcase for the technical advances made by participating nations. Instead, the Spanish pavilion was recast to bear witness to the tragic political situation unfolding within the country: “The Spanish section at the exposition (…) can and must depict the present moment and the extraordinary efforts of the Spanish people in defence of their independence and the cause of peace in the world”.

The pavilion, known as the Pavelló de la República, was conceived by the architects Josep Lluis Sert and Luis Lacasa as an empty box. It stood three storeys in height and contained almost no walls. The first floor was kept clear and it opened onto a courtyard that was covered by a canvas awning and served as an auditorium. A staircase climbed to the second floor and a ramp led up to the third, although vertical access was also available within the interior of the structure. The construction of the building reflected severe constraints on time and materials and the plans had to be adapted to sloping terrain and a requirement not to damage any pre-existing trees on the assigned plot of land.

Barcelona 2

The basic purpose of the pavilion was cultural and informational in nature. The aim was to provide news on the current situation in Spain, clearly state the Republican government’s objectives and stress the heroic struggle of the Spanish people. Displayed in the interior of the pavilion and on its facade, which acted as a sort of giant billboard, were posters, photographs, photomontages, proclamations, informative panels, and works of arts and crafts sent directly from Spain by the central government, the governments of the autonomous regions and the trade unions. Many of the works on show sought to influence public opinion with their references to the situation of Spain before and after the Republic and on the war itself.

The construction of the building, reflecting the severe constraints on time and materials imposed by the civil war, marked a significant architectural achievement in terms of its contributions and relationships with the prevailing avant-garde of that time. Pablo Picasso exhibited his famous painting Guernica alongside works by other artists, such as Calder’s Mercury Fountain, Julio González’s sculpture La Montserrat, Miró’s mural The Reaper, and Alberto Sánchez’s sculpture The Spanish People Have a Path That Leads to a Star, which stood outside the pavilion. A great number of the works of art on view were expressly created for the pavilion and represent the artists’ commitment and solidarity in the face of the tragedy exacted by the civil war.

For the 1992 Olympic Games, the Barcelona city hall commissioned a study from the architects Ubac/Espinet to create a copy of the original Pavelló de la República, which had been destroyed at the conclusion of the 1937 Paris International Exposition. Today, this emblematic building, given by the Barcelona city hall to the University of Barcelona, is home to the Pavelló de la República Library Collection, one of the world’s foremost sources of documentation on the Second Republic, the Spanish Civil War, the Franco dictatorship, exile and Spain’s democratic transition, particularly as these events affected Catalonia. Today, visitors to the pavilion will find a reproduction of Picasso’s famous Guernica in the open courtyard, where the original painting first hung in 1937.

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