BARCELONA Building facades are like our faces. The facade of a palace, skyscraper, house or factory, is the first architectural element which we can relate with. But we don’t always look into the eyes of passers-by that we meet on the street; indeed, with or without intention, we often avoid the eye contact. And so it is with architecture: we mechanically repeat the same paths, streets and squares that lead us to work or home, but if we were asked to describe the faces of the buildings that surround us everyday, we wouldn’t probably know what to say.
Roc Isern (@stoptheroc) is an architect passionate about photography. He lives in the Catalan capital and for a few months he shares on Instagram (@barcelonafacades) his portraits of Barcelona facades. Of course, not all cities in the world are so photogenic. But, as an old maxim about aesthetics says, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or – even better in this case – of who knows to see.
And we immediately fell in love with the way Roc Isern looks at the architecture of his city. So we interviewed him and in the gallery below – thanks to his courtesy – you can see the first series of the beautiful “patterns” published by @barcelonafacades on Instagram. They seem weave textures.
Who is the person behind the @barcelonafacades Instagram profile? My name is Roc Isern and I’m a Technical Architect; despite the crisis in the sector in my country, this is my current job and it consists in the direction of building work and architecture projects. This allows me to move through the territory and explore the nooks of my hometown. I’m passionate about photography and an amateur of it. Of course, architecture and design are another passion, as well as all things related with new technologies and gadgets (I’m a geek). So when I discovered and started to use Instagram (initially only as @stoptheroc), about one year ago, I realized that it was the perfect platform to join all my hobbies and to share them with other people.
How did you decide to start this photography project? The most visible and accessible part of the architecture are the facades; and if they are shown through photography with sensitivity and good taste, they offer a great reward. I’ve always loved the straight facade shots but when I started on Instagram I wasn’t sufficiently dominating the technique to take and edit good photos, yet. In this type of photography, the perfection is essential to have a great image. After having learned the technique (self-taught) and made some photos, I’ve decided to create a second profile and so the Barcelona Facades gallery (@barcelonafacades) on Instagram, trying to group three facades at a time that look well combined together. I see that my city provides me an inexhaustible source of possibilities, like the idea for this project. I try to make something original, and I like it also because it allows me to walk around my city and discover areas that I even didn’t know.
Can you tell us a bit about your technique? In my gallery, I alternate photos taken with iPhone 5 and many others taken with a Lumix GF1 camera equipped with a wide angle lens. For straight facade shots, I’m lately using the wide angle lens because it allows me to capture the maximum surface of facades with a little space in front (like it’s usually in many streets of Barcelona). Technique consists in taking the picture as much as possible perpendicular to the facade and avoiding the obstacles that are normally on the street (cables, trees, streetlights, etc.). Then I edit them entirely in my iPhone or iPad using tools to correct the perspective and crop the image. I don’t usually use filters, only to correct parameters like contrast, brightness and sometimes a little bit of saturation. They are true colours, I don’t use VSCO Cam.
Barcelona offers a very various urban scenery: from the Barrio Gótico to L’Eixample, we see distant ages and different styles. Can you suggest any places particularly interesting for architecture lovers? I recommend 3 places of modern architecture:
1. 22@ – also known as Districte de la Innovació (Innovation District): this area is still under construction and its centre is Plaça de les Glòries. It’s the core of a urban regeneration begun during the 2000s and still ongoing. It’s a neighborhood dedicated to the establishment of enterprises engaged in information, communication, research, education as well as subsidized housing. Highlights: the famous Agbar Tower by Jean Nouvel, the CMT Building, the Media-Tic Building, the Can Framis Museum, the Communication Faculty, the Mediapro Tower and the recently released “Els Encants” market.
2. Parc del Fórum and Diagonal-Mar neighborhood: the Parc del Fórum is located on the waterfront at the northernmost end of the city. The park was built for the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures. Highlights: Telefonica Tower, Forum Building, Photovoltaic Plate, etc.
3. Fira de Barcelona and Plaça Europa: part of the recent urban development of L’Hospitalet, it has a distinguishable skyline made up of high-rises, among the tallest structures in the city, some of which are designed by Toyo Ito. It’s expected to become a financial centre. Highlights: Porta Fira Hotel and Fira de L’Hospitalet by Toyo Ito, Renaissance Barcelona Hotel by Jean Nouvel, Puig Tower by Rafael Moneo, etc.
We found out your project on Instagram: @barcelonafacades. Do you have any other social profile, blog or website, that we can follow? In terms of social networks, despite having twitter and facebook, I just don’t use them. For now, I’m only focused on Instagram. And I don’t have neither a site nor blog.