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

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 fa├žade. 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.
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