Pigments for sale in Goa, India (photo by Dan Brady)

Pigments for sale in Goa, India (photo by Dan Brady)

Knowing that it’s hard to tell whether the color you’re seeing on a paint chip is going to be gorgeous on your wall at home, paint companies sell those little jars so you can swatch. They recommend that you paint a section of your wall, perhaps the size of a poster, and live with it for a couple of days. I’ve just never seen that done on this scale before….


This is the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, an opera house and performing arts center in Valencia. It’s been somewhat under-dressed for quite a while. Completed in 2005, it is part of a complex of amazing buildings in Valencia that houses el Guapo’s employer, so we spent a lot of time around it, and at least some time inside it. I’ve yet to see an opera there, but we did enjoy the concert/honorary doctoral ceremony for Plácido Domingo, and were able to get in on the TEDx BerkleeValencia event in June.

Ceramic tile is everywhere in Valencia, and the facade of the Palau featured a massive quantity of white mosaic tiles. Unfortunately, there seems to have been some problem with the tile staying where it was supposed to, and the more the tiles began to fall off, the more people began to be concerned.

When we arrived in January of 2014, efforts were underway to scrape the tiles from the building. At first, crews used cherry pickers and power equipment, and then progressed to workers in harnesses rappelling down the facade, jack-hammers presumably strapped on somehow. Once the tiles were removed, the swatches went up. And stayed up. And time passed.

I checked in with a friend last week (hi, Susan!) to get the current status, and she says nothing has changed–the Palau is still naked. I don’t know whether they’re waiting because they just can’t decide between the swatch on the far left and the one second from the right, or whether they got distracted, or whether they’ve got budget woes. Maybe they just need the prospect of someone new coming to visit–I know that does wonders for my ability to really see my surroundings, and finally get around to putting away that stack of things that has been in that spot for, well, let’s not dwell on that.

Here are a couple of views of what the Palau looked like before its tile troubles:

palau side

El Guapo returns in mid January. Knowing how house projects tend to take a lot more time than you can ever imagine they will, I’m not holding my breath that the Palau will finally be dressed again. But maybe el Guapo can offer his opinion about which swatch he thinks looks best, so they can proceed.



3 thoughts on “Swatches

    • So true. I was told by a friend that the building was designed to resemble a plumed helmet–that structure over the top represents a feather. It’s anchored into the ground at only one spot, and then it extends out over the entire building. It must have been an engineering marvel/nightmare to design.

  1. Pingback: Palau in hiding | Lori Notes

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