When the original 15th century Hospital de la Santa Creu, in Barcelona towards the end of 19th century "became too smal to meet the needs of the growing city and to keep pace with the advances in medicine"1, the construction of a new hospital was considered on a large site not far from the Sagrada Familia, at the opposite end of the Avinguda de Gaudì.
"Thanks to the legacy of the banker Pau Gil, the first stone of the new building was laid on January 15th, 1902. The old name of Santa Creu was added to that of Sant Pau in respect for its benefactor's wishes. The architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner was commissioned for the new project which was later to become the most outstanding public building of Catalan Modernisme. In recognition of its singular architectural and artistical beauty, in 1997 UNESCO declared the complex a World Heritage site"2.
"Although the initial Domènech i Montaner project contemplated the construction of 48 Art Nouveau pavilions, ultimately only 18 were executed. Of these, 12 were designed by the architect and the rest by his son, Pere Domènech i Roure. (…) Before executing the project he traveled through Europe in order to review trends in hospital construction. In the end, he opted for the construction of several pavilions designated to different medical specialities, all of them connected through a network of underground tunnels spanning a total of one kilometer. (…) In his original design, Domènech i Montaner allotted 145 m2 for each patient, a proportion far above the next best index at any European hospital of the time. The architect's project also included green spaces throughout. This gave rise to the "garden city" concept that prioritized the wellbeing of patients"3
At the dawn of 21thcentury the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau began the complex process of relocation to its third and current location, next to the modernist complex. With the shift of his "activity to the new hospital premises in 2009, Sant Pau began the largest heritage restoration project in Europe"4. Now (september 2011) the modernist site is still undergoing a deep work of rehabilitation and reallocation.
- Photos by Luca Borghi ti.supmacinu|ihgrob.l#| (September 2011)
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