Tourists at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona

Tourism is the only ‘industry’ in Spain that is not downsizing in the current (well, actually it’s been five years now) economic downturn. On the contrary, the number of visitors to Spain has been growing steadily. And it’s not beach tourism that’s growing, but urban-cultural tourism, which includes architecture. In Barcelona, the Gaudí industry is doing molt bé.  Even the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion seems to be receiving more visitors than before.

But while architecture as cultural tourism is doing better than ever, architecture as building is in the doldrums in Spain, a country with a high number of living (not to say ‘working’) architects who are internationally respected. Something is surely wrong when an entire generation of talent sits idle while the talent of previous generations is increasingly consumed like fast food. But then again, it’s a perfect sign of the Zeitgeist, isn’t it?

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