Among the many plazas scattered in the old city district of Barcelona, Plaça dels Angels at El Raval stands out the most to me, not so much for its size or the many visitors attracted to it, but for its unique surrounding environments and the small community of intriguing people who seem to absolutely love this spot.
Plaça dels Angels, at a glance, seems like an ordinary plaza that features an open ground sloped slightly towards one side and paved in grey stones entirely. There is not a single bench or table for the public to sit around. However, what the plaza lacks in seating amenities, it compensates by providing two seemingly overwhelmingly big buildings from different eras of architecture: Richard Meier’s Barcelona Museo of Contemporary Art (MACBA) and a converted medieval chapel across it, along with stone covered ledges and steps as well as a long gentle ramp from the museum down towards the plaza.
Although there are no explicit seating areas, every time I pass by this spot, there are always people sitting around the stone ledge chatting for hours and skateboarders trying to perfect their craft while practicing skateboard tricks. Other visitors and passersby can be seen filming skateboarders, selling beers, having a quick smoke, or visiting museums. Regardless of what time you visit, you will always find people there.
It is interesting to think whether Meier’s original idea was indeed to combine a typically quiet program (a museum) with a 24/7 buzzing life (mainly of skateboarders) in front of it or not. Regardless of whether it is intentional or not, Plaça dels Angels has become one of the world’s skateboarding destinations since the late 90’s.
As a recently graduated architecture student and a skateboard enthusiast, I visit the plaza regularly. Not only can I do a quick skateboarding session while hanging around to pay attention to some professionals doing tricks, I can also enjoy its architecture and just simply observe the plaza and its diverse visitors.
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Post by Andre Simapranata