1 of 5
2 of 5
3 of 5
4 of 5
5 of 5
Love it or hate it, the new Disseny Hub in Glòries won’t leave you indifferent. This massive cultural facility is housed in a brand new anvil-shaped building, which proudly presides over events at the evolving heart of Glòries.
Hub by name and by nature, the building overlooks the recently demolished giant roundabout—soon to become a new green lung for the city—at a key transport and urban connection point, next to the Torre Agbar.
Over seven storeys, the Disseny Hub accommodates the Museu del Disseny de Barcelona, which offers a new home to permanent collections from four museums across the city, as well as large temporary exhibition spaces, a reference library, and a 320-seater auditorium. It also houses the Biblioteca El Clot - Josep Benet, a public cafe, and the headquarters of design institutions BCD (Barcelona Centre de Disseny), and FAD (Foment de les Arts i del Disseny). In a nutshell, it brings all things design together under one roof, from fourth-century textiles to present day products; a fitting homage to the integral role design plays in the city’s cultural heritage.
Constructed between 2008 and 2013, and designed by local architects MBM, this zinc-clad, concrete and glass construction is a focal point for an increasing population of cultural assets and innovative industries that surround it: the new Encants Market, La Farinera del Clot Cultural Centre, Can Framis Fundacio Vila Casa, the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, and L’Auditori. The 22@Barcelona district also lies nearby, which over the last decade has become the new home of many innovative and knowledge-based businesses, including Mediapro, Media-Tic, Radiotelevisión Española, RBA Editors, Barcelona Activa, and the communication campus of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
The building is divided into two sections. The bottom section runs the length of the site, to create large semi-basement spaces with a grass roof that provides landscaping above. The upper section is the visible, top-heavy structure, which cantilevers over the tramline towards Plaça de les Glòries. And just as any self-respecting 21st-century building should be, it’s green. Several sustainable building concepts are employed, from the reuse of rainwater, collected in decorative ponds surrounding the buildings, to the innovative use of daylight, which filters into the large semi-underground spaces from above and is simultaneously reflected off the ponds that run alongside. Google maps reveals the army of photovoltaic cells on the roof, whilst the thermal mass of the principal building material, concrete, aids passive solar heating (and cooling) throughout the year.
But probably the most memorable element of the building (at least for the kids), is the interactive sound and light installation, BuumRuum! by David Torrents y artec3 Studio, which forms part of the urban landscaping. Hours of fun.
Apart from the spectacle of the building, the biggest draw for the general public is the Museu del Disseny, which opened its doors on December 14th, and in its first weekend alone, saw nearly 15,000 visitors swarming about the polished concrete floors of the exhibition halls. Entrance was free until January 31st, by which time, well over 90,000 had stopped by.
Primarily occupying the most visible floors of the Disseny Hub building, the museum houses an extensive permanent collection, which combines exhibits from the former Museu de les Arts Decoratives (decorative arts), Museu de Ceràmica (ceramics), Museu Tèxtil i d’Indumentària (textiles and clothing) and the Gabinet de les Arts Gràfiques (graphic arts). The result is an eclectic collection of more than 70,000 objects, traditionally classified as decorative or applied arts, which curators have grouped into four permanent exhibitions.
On the first floor, ‘From the World to the Museum. Product Design, Cultural Heritage’ gathers together 238 hallmark designs that represent the time period in which they were born. Spanning several decades, this collection includes a whole host of everyday objects, from the pioneering and the innovative, to the seemingly mundane, arranged in three main sections—reference, materiality and social context—and include diverse themes, including eco-design, ergonomics, the popular, the functional and the versatile.
The next floor accommodates ‘Extraordinary! Decorative Arts and Author Art Collections (3rd-20th centuries)’, which offers a chronological journey through an exceptional collection of 1,100 ceramics, textiles, furniture, glassware, clocks, wallpaper, and other objects. The exhibits give an insight into the past and present inhabitants of Barcelona—how they lived, how they related to cultural traditions, and the importance of aesthetics in everyday life. Within the exhibition, 30 highlighted pieces are selected to give a concise overview of the history of the decorative arts in Catalunya (good for the fast-track visitor).
‘Dressing the Body. Silhouettes and Fashion (1550-2015)’, on the third floor, walks us through the changing shape of the body as modelled by fashion, explained through 173 dresses and frames. Since ancient times, human beings have altered the shape and appearance of their bodies, in ways that are intimately connected with moral, social and aesthetic codes. This exhibition invites the spectator to take a fascinating journey through the history of culture, with dress, forms and the body as protagonists.
Finally, the permanent graphic design exhibition on the fourth floor, ‘Graphic Design: from trade to profession (1940-1980)’, traces the history of graphic design as a profession, beginning with the generation who trained in the Thirties as commercial artists, and ending with those who entered as apprentices in the first design studio. The collection includes 554 striking visuals that represent their era and culture—from calendars and press advertisements, to packaging and posters. Ending in 1980, this exhibition is to be continued…
This month, the first temporary exhibition, ‘Design for Life’, opens on February 18th, and the museum offers a regular programme of activities related to the exhibitions, as well as guided tours, lectures and workshops.
- Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-8pm
- Prices: Permanent exhibitions: general admission €6; reduced admission €4
- Admission free: Sunday afternoons, from 3 to 8 pm, and the first Sunday of each month