Travelogue: Concepts in Barcelona

This week our growing team pulled away from Slack to do something we hadn’t before: meet in person.

The immediate recognition and smiles were amazing. There’s comfort seeing someone you so highly respect in their true form — more laid back, laughing, kind… and taller than in our team calls. (Admittedly a row of heads.)

We met in Barcelona and cozied up in a couple of narrow apartments with enough room to gather our chairs around the open shutters and enjoy the view of the city. We chatted team vision, app strengths and weaknesses, and next steps. We have some excellent goals up our sleeves filled with innovation, excitement and hard work.

Of course, with such perfect sun and breezes on the coast of Spain, you can’t stay inside all day. We thought we’d share with you some of our most memorable moments and impressions of Barcelona.

Literally around the corner from our apartments rose La Sagrada Familia, a massive basilica in the making that transports you into a fairy tale.

Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família.
Details in sunlight. Acció de Gràcies means Thanksgiving.

Begun one hundred and thirty-five years ago, this building remains under construction until 2026. It’s an artist’s dream and an engineer’s nightmare — how do you support these intricately carved, organic, concrete shapes against the wear of time?

The building is truly captivating — I itched for my pencil but when I tried to draw it, there was so much of the building I could only fathom it in pieces. Perhaps that’s what the visionary architect Gaudi meant to bestow upon its visitors — a sense of the complexity of the Omniscient One.

The shops, street-art and architecture of the Gothic Quarter.

Atmosphere in these arched stone alleyways with shops.
Ancient stone vs. modern art.

Part of the original center of Barcelona — back when the city’s reach extended only to the line a cannonball could reach from its defenses, the Gothic Quarter has become a texture-rich place to wander. The street-art and renovated interiors add a personal signature of lives now in the middle of a city of deep origin.

The light-hearted Barcelona Aquarium housed penguins, sharks, and four lovable octopi, one in particular who specialized in interior design.

Humboldt penguins from Santtu’s mobile travel journal.
Did you know octopi were this strong? That’s a BIG rock.

We took a visit to the rolling green hills and forceful winds round the Circuit de Catalunya, and photographed the fastest vehicles on earth out for Formula One’s pre-season testing. McLaren has a challenge in front of them this season.

Top to bottom: Mercedes — Valteri Bottas; McLaren — Stoffel Vandoorne; Ferrari — Sebastien Vettel. Photographs captured mid-run by Dave on a Nikon D200.
Speed captured by Ben.
From Lasse’s shiny sketchbook.

And we were lucky enough to be there to attend the now historical FC Barcelona vs. Paris Saint Germain Champions League game. Crowded and tense with impulsive yelling and flag-waving…

Mid-game moment by Valentin.

… then cheering with the entire city at the tremendous Barcelona victory.

Barcelona conquered 6:1. This is the penalty that kept them in the game and led to their unbelievable win. Slo-mo by Ben.

We took an architectural tour considering the future of Barcelona. Quite a lot of urban development is happening in many parts of the city, and the questions the city and its architects must tackle are, how do you bridge the old with the new? How do you align your ancient heritage with the services you provide now, and head toward the vision of what you want to become? Juggling diverse voices, existing physical constraints and budgets, can you mesh the latest energy efficient technologies with your roots and grow into a center of vision and innovation?

Industrial style with energy-efficient systems.
Integration. They use mirrors on their buildings to reflect the old architecture.
Again, reflections. This is the new structure above Els Encants Vells flea market.

Big design questions. Very big.

And pulling back to city roots, from the top of the historic Montjuïc Castle, the view of the Mediterranean…

Port de Barcelona.

… and the vista of Barcelona.

Across the Parc de Montjuic, you can see the cupola of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

Recommendation? High. Barcelona is well-worth the visit… or the stay. I admit we were tempted by some exquisite seaside real estate, but that will have to come another year. We have lots coming round this year!


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Photographs provided by the Concepts team at TopHatch.
Written by Erica Christensen.