Journal of Romance Studies

Barcelona’s permeable monument: Fontserè’s Umbracle and the Parc de la Ciutadella

Journal of Romance Studies (2014), 14, (3), 86–99.

Abstract

In this article I propose a reading of the Umbracle as a unique monument: one that at once engages with local urban memory while participating in a broader dialogue with modern architectural and display practices. I argue that given its location on the former site of the hated Spanish military base, the Ciutadella, the Umbracle addressed the need for a new form of monumentality even before the Universal Exposition of 1888 would do so in a more generalized fashion. I contend that its permeability responds to fundamental questions of access that are representative of the palimpsest-like nature of the larger area of the Ciutadella and of Barcelona’s relationship with it. Thus, the unique structure of the Umbracle points to the greater concept of ‘enclosure’ in two ways: as a distinctive indicator of Barcelona’s own specific modern experience and as a related part of what Sloterdijk calls the ‘grand interior’.

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Davidson, Robert