The Forum Building is a huge triangular structure that was built in 2004 as the main exhibition hall for the Forum of Cultures, held that year in Barcelona. The Forum spawned the development of Barcelona’s north waterfront.
Forum of Cultures
The Universal Forum of Cultures 2004 was a large exhibition organized by the city council of Barcelona to boost the city’s international profile. The main themes of the forum were sustainable development, cultural diversity and peace.
The city selected a tract of land along the north waterfront, at the end of the Diagonal boulevard, as the location for the Forum of Cultures. At the time the about thirty hectare (74 acres) large terrain was not much more than industrial wasteland.
Between 2000 and 2004 a large project was undertaken to transform the area in preparation for the upcoming exhibition. It included the construction of an exhibition hall, a large convention center – the largest in southern Europe – and the construction of a giant solar panel. At the same time the surrounding area was developed into a huge, fourteen hectare large open plaza with a landscaped park.
The centerpiece of the Forum was the Edifici Fòrum (Forum Building). It was designed by the Swiss architectural firm of Herzog & de Meuron as a multifunctional building with an auditorium, exhibition areas, administrative areas, foyer spaces and a restaurant.
The spectacular design in the form of a giant triangle that seems to float in the air was selected as the winner of a competition that was held in 2000. Actual construction started in 2002 and the Edifici Fòrum opened just in time for the Forum of Cultures in 2004. The building is huge: it rises 25 meters high and has 180 meter wide sides (82 x 591 ft), covering an area of some 16200 square meters.
Similar to how the 1992 Olympics created an opportunity to transform Barcelona’s derelict central waterfront into a modern entertainment center, the Forum 2004 marked the start of the development of the north waterfront into a new neighborhood, known as the Diagonal Mar.
In a span of just ten years several hotels, residential complexes and modern office high-rises were erected in this once desolate corner of Barcelona, integrating the formerly abandoned industrial site into the urban fabric of Barcelona. Some highlights include the luxury Hotel Princess Barcelona and the Torre Diagonal Zero Zero, a rather eye-catching modern tower.
The Forum building is home to the Museu Blau (Blue Museum), which occupies some nine thousand square meters of exhibition space. The museum has several modern exhibitions evolving around life on the planet earth with a collection of over three million items. They cover a wide spectrum of scientific fields, from mineralogy and paleontology to botany and zoology. The museum also has a special area for children aged 0-6, named ‘Science Nest’.
The Museu Blau is part of the Natural History Museum of Barcelona, which is spread over several locations around the city. The museum also manages, among others, the Botanic Garden at Montjuïc.