Reinterpretation of modernist ornament for formal definition – Santa Creu i Santa Pau HOSPITAL GARDENS


With a contemporary understanding of public space, we propose a hierarchy of road systems that significantly reduces vehicle mobility in order to increase areas of planting. Thus the area creates an equilibrium between architecture and environment. With the exception of the central promenade, the whole area is given to terrain and abundant vegetation –green space compatible with occasional vehicle traffic.


Reinterpretation of modernist ornament for formal definition of urban elements
All of the components of intervention meet the new demands given by change of the use of the site, and at the same time establish a material and formal relationship with the aesthetic system of Domènech i Montaner, such as the use of ´pattern´as an element of composition.

“…in all of Domènech´s designs—whether mosaics, floors, or wrought iron grilles— there exists a pattern that in most cases, either through repetition or alternation, functions as the driving force of the design.” Lourdes Figueras, La búsqueda y consolidaciones de un estilo.

A carpeting of Montjuïc-style stone serves as the neutral support of different building and brings continuity to the project as a whole, adapting to the systems of each space through a system of repetition and alternation. On the central promenade, this stone pavement supports  pedestrian flow as well as the restricted road circulation. In the gardens, it disappears to give prominence to the vegetation, reappearing in activity pavilions for outdoor programming.



All elements in contact with the ground (stone pavement, walls, lights) are executed in this same Montjuïc-style stone in order to establish continuity at the base of all structures. This creates a neutral surface that allows emphasis of the formal singularity of each of the ceramic structures.


Fences and Railings

In reinterpreting modernist fences and railings, we sought to maintain the same architectural language while using new materials. Instead of wrought-iron, we used woven stainless steel that acts as supports for climbing vines with a variety of colourful flowers. This system is the same for the new fences and railings and the existing railings that needed to be updated according to new regulations.


We took note of the reinterpretation of the idea of “writing” with the stone in the façade emblem
and the railings of the large hall of the Hospital of San Pau.   We reused the same idea, but applied to the exterior signage of all the buildings, writing signage information in bas-relief on the stone pavement.


Plant Species
To compliment the tree planting in the gardens during summer and winter, we chose the same plant species that fill the shields, emblems, capitals, floor patterns, and glass tiles of the Hospital of Santa Cruz and San Pablo.


The original gardens were created within the context of modernist architecture, designed with an open minded, innovative vision, importing elements collected from the rest of Europe, which certainly had to harmonize with an architecture full of references to the natural world. In the treatment of vegetation, we wanted to approach and understand this way of working, and to recover that spirit. The vegetation proposed in the project recovers the concept of summer and winter gardens from the original project, complementing the preserved existing species in good condition with new species using the list from 1901.


Street Furniture
We proposed chairs of the turn-of-the-century Parisian style, made of painted steel to make them lightweight and easy to move. Because the premises are closed and controlled, we proposed that the chairs are positioned mainly in the centre of the promenade but not fixed to the ground, so that users can move them as they please.


LOCATION | Sant Antoni M. Claret 167, 08025 Barcelona, Spain

Designers |
Claudi Aguiló, architect
Roberto González, architect
Isabel Bennasar, architect
Sergi Serrat, architect

Consultants |
Albert Domingo, engineer
Roser Vives, agronomist
Eulalia Aran, quantity surveyor

Image Credits | Pol Viladoms

About Damian Holmes 3271 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at