John Puttick’s inspiration: Fundació Joan Miró, Parc de Montjuïc, Barcelona

Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona

Josep Lluís Sert’s 1975 gallery is supremely simple - but its design is not passive

I first visited the Miró Foundation in 1998 and have been a few times since when I was working for David Chipperfield on projects in Barcelona. My overall impression is that it’s a very joyful and an unusually gentle building that just feels very effortless (although I’m sure it was anything but).

Josep Lluís Sert and Joan Miró were friends as well as collaborators. They had some huge advantages on this project such as the sympathy they had between them for the sort of building they wanted to achieve, and the fact that they were able to choose this incredible hillside site at Montjuïc.

The simplicity of the design is important to its success because it would definitely have been possible to overdo a building like this. Instead Sert and Miró created something very relaxed and restrained that manipulates the form and the light and the sequences of the spaces but uses very few materials. As a result, the form and spirit of the building somehow do reflect Miró’s work without being particularly literal – there are echoes, but Sert doesn’t try too hard to do this.

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