The Phantom of The Free Plan - Notes on Barcelona Pavilion
Isn’t it strange how in the Barcelona Pavilion, I’ve never achieved a “free-flowing” experience? The so-called free plan is not free - at least not so in my mental construct, which Mies has masterfully manipulated through his strategically placed screens and walls. In other words, the celebrated free plan of modernist invention only exists on the drafting table for the architect as the master creator. It never exists for a visitor as humble as me. My experience within the pavilion was burdened by the many influences that the system of walls and columns imposed on my circulation. Ascending the plinth, turning around the corner out of some unknown impulse, to be greeted by the oversized sculpture, who, in her twisted gesture, called me for a close scrutiny while simultaneously rejecting it, I increasingly felt that there must be phantoms wandering around this uncanny space, whispering, guiding and moving me like a puppet despite the pavilion’s claimed fluidity and neutrality.
Behind the milky glass, a distant voice says to me “Take the unknown path! And get entrapped!” I believe that I am not the only one who felt propelled to go and check the source of light rather than leaving the pavilion at this point, and I often wonder what is dragging me among all those openly arranged walls.