Barcelona Photoblog: Sant Pau Hospital: A Touch of Fresh Air in Architecture

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sant Pau Hospital: A Touch of Fresh Air in Architecture

Art Nouveau ventilation turret in Sant Pau hospital Modernista complex

If you want to see a good sample of Catalan art nouveau take a walk inside Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.

I have mentioned this jewel of modernist architecture before in many posts. I just want you to stop and take a look at the details.

There are some small ventilation towers or art nouveau chimney stacks that do deserve some of your time.

Adorned in a very similar way to nearby cupolas with overlapped fish scale-like tiles they carry some extra decoration that makes them stand out from the rest of motifs on the roof and part of the façade. Notice the use of tiny gargoyles to deviate water from the duct and bigger yellow tiles to embellish the box where the vents are. I particularly like those two stars which give it this sort of bizarre look.

These turrets were made just for ventilation purposes because the heating, water, gas and electricity services are installed in the open.  

Domenech i Montaner, the architect behind these magnificent buildings, made emphasis on the human factor, on the well being of patients so fresh air, obtained thanks to this innovative system of natural ventilation, was a priority within the isolated, one-storey pavilions surrounded by gardens. In fact, pavilions are connected by underground corridors that were used to transport patients and for some medical services thus keeping the atmosphere on the surface much cleaner and less noisy.


  1. Great tiling - artsy detail!

  2. That is so cool! Not only did he think of the welfare of the patients but he made such ordinary necessities beautiful works of art! Fantastic!

  3. So much great architecture in Barcelona - I'm tempted to go visit again.

  4. Really, quite fascinating. Someone had some vision.

  5. I did just what you suggest and walked here - it was really enjoyable. I was almost alone - well the only tourist, anyway!

    All the best from me at Sydney Daily Photo. I’m so busy with a new job I hardly have time to post, much less comment these days!

  6. Wonderful art! I have a friend who is landing in Barcelona today, I couldn't be more jealous!

  7. Great picture! This is on my list of places to visit. It sounds fascinating.

  8. .Hi Leif. Thanks.
    .Consider it done Abe ;)
    .Yes, he was a prolific and revolutionary artist.
    .Barcelona is full of hidden treasures my friend. Welcome Eamon.
    .Thanks B S.
    .Hi, Sally. Yes, although there are tourists it is strange to see too many at a time.
    .Really! The weather is nice now. Hope he or she has a great time in the city.
    .That's a good choice. It is not far from Sagrada Familia, in fact you can walk along Avinguda Gaudi from the cathedral till the hospital. Don't forget to look back when you get to the hospital. There's a wonderful view of the SF spires from there. Once you visit the hospital and on leaving the gates at the main entrance turn left and walk towards carrer St Quinti, on the very corner there is a nice dome, Casa de Convalèscencia. You can visit part of it. Not many visitors find that one. It is not for tourists but they will let you see the modernist hall and stairs.

  9. Weird architecture - great pic. Me likey :-)

  10. You're right there are so many lovely little gems all around. I love looking at the street lights and the pavements too. The art is everywhere.

  11. This is absolutely amazing! And it's a great photograph! Did you have to climb out on the roof to get it?

  12. Against the blue sky the colours really pop out. Beautifully designed.

  13. Love the design, and the stars esp!


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