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The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul) has become the most significant civil architecture in Catalan modernisme. Build between 1901 and 1930 in the neighborhood of El Guinardó, Barcelona, is a hospitalary complex designed by Catalan modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
It is a highly complex hospital that dates back six centuries, founded in 1401, when six small hospitals merged into a big Medieval Complex called Hospital de la Santa Creu build in the Raval Area of the Gothic Neighborhood. The hospital's former buildings now house an art school (Escola Massana), the Biblioteca de Catalunya (National Library of Catalonia) and other cultural institutions (information at Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu).
At the ends of 19th century the city had grown considerably and the advances of medicine required modern facilities that could not fit in the medieval buildings of the Raval Complex. Consequently, it was necessary to build a new complex, which could be financed through donations made by the banker Pau Gil. The first stone was laid on 1902 and was developed in the course of 18 years, during which the works were halted for lack of funding and finally ended in 1930. To honor the wishes of the patron, his name, Paul, was added to the hospital, which thereafter was officially called the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau although now is simply known as Hospital de Sant Pau.
An area of nine blocks of the Eixample, a square 300 by 300 feet was left to build the New Complex designed by Domènech I Montaner, consisting of a main building dedicated to the administration, and different other pavilions where to carry out medical and nursing tasks. All buildings are linked by underground tunnels suitable for transporting patients. The technical facilities are located outdoors, in order to facilitate maintenance.
Of the 42 pavilions projected by Domènech I Montaner only 18 were build (12 designed by himself) displayed obliquely to the Eixample structure looking south to the sun and surrounded by gardens to help the convalescence of the patients.
As it was common on the work of Modernist architects Domenech i Montaner had several artists who collaborated with him on the project. The most known were Eusebi Arnau and Pau Gargallo, author of numerous sculptures in the Complex; Francesc Labarta, who designed the paintings, the mosaics are also Labarta’s work together with Mario Maragliano, the panels on the facades with the history of the hospital are by Lluís Bru; Josep Perpignan was in charge of making the wrought iron elements.
Again at the beginning of this century the new needs and the advances of medicine required new installations and a modern hospital Sant Pau complex was build in the hospital grounds at the far north-east end of it. The Sant Pau modernist complex was still fully functioning as hospital until June 2009 when the new buildings were finished, and now it is currently undergoing a complete restoration of a total of 19 buildings, 45.280 m2 of built space, 45.189 m2 of exterior space and 1 km of underground tunnels to be used as a museum and cultural center.
Two phases have been defined for the restoration project, first from 2009 to 2013 that includes the entire central zone of the site, meaning a total of 13 buildings and a second phase from 2013 to 2016 including the old pharmacy, the former kitchens and the Santa Victòria, Sant Frederic, Casa de Convalescència and Church pavilions.
In early 2012 one of the modernist pavilions of the Sant Pau Hospital will house an International Institute of the United Nations University. This is the first Centre of these characteristics to be established in southern Europe and in the Mediterranean. The initiative is part of the project that will transform the Sant Pau heritage site into an international hub.
Actually the main buildings have restricted access due to rehabilitation works except for scheduled visits from 10:00 to 14:00. More information on the areas to visit in the citizen information at the website: santpau.es