Antoni Gaudi’s architectural work that I had the opportunity to see in Barcelona recently has got to be one of the most unique I have ever seen and appreciated. Architect and designer, Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) is the most internationally prestigious figure in spanish architecture. Born in Reus, in Catalonia, he graduated in Barcelona in 1878 and this city became the center of his activities. One important aspect is his capacity as designer.
This led him to create, in close collaboration with some of the very fine artisans of his time, all those elements making up architectural space – wrought iron, furniture, stained glass, sculptural work, mosaics, ceramics and so on – within an organic concept of decoration and with the integration of these elements into the construction process. The sea landscape was one of his most preferred inspirations.
In his own time, Gaudi was both admired and criticised for the audacity and singularity of his innovative solutions. His fame on a world scale has become an unquestioned fact both in specialised circles and among the general public.
The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família often simply called the Sagrada Família, is a massive, privately-funded Roman Catholic church that has been under construction in Barcelona, Spain since 1882 and is not expected to be complete until at least 2026. Considered the master-work of renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi the project’s vast scale and idiosyncratic design have made it one of Barcelona’s (and Spain’s) top tourist attractions for many years. A portion of the building’s interior is scheduled to open for public worship and tours by September of 2010.
Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera (Catalan for ‘The Quarry’), was built during the years 1906–1910, being considered officially completed in 1912. It is located at 92, Passeig de Gracia (passeig is Catalan for promenade) in the Eixample district of Barcelona.
It was built for the married couple, Rosario Segimon and Pere Milà. Rosario Segimon was the wealthy widow of Jose Guardiola, an Indaino, a term applied locally to the Catalans returning from the American colonies with tremendous wealth. Her second husband, Pere Mila, was a developer who was criticized for his flamboyant lifestyle and ridiculed by the contemporary residents of Barcelona, when they joked about his love of money and opulence, wondering if he was not rather more interested in “the widow’s guardiola” (piggy bank), than in “Guardiola’s widow”.
The Palau Güell is a town mansion (translated literally a “palace”) in Barcelona designed by Gaudi for the Catalan industrial tycoon Eusebi Guell.
It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Works of Antoni Gaudi”.
The home is centered on a main room for entertaining high society guests. Guests entered the home in horse drawn carriages through the front iron gates, which featured a parabolic arch and intricate patterns of forged iron-work resembling seaweed and in some parts a horsewhip. Animals could be taken down a ramp and kept in the livery stable in the basement where the servants resided, while the guests went up the stairs to the receiving room. The ornate walls and ceilings of the receiving room disguised small viewing windows high on the walls where the owners of the home could view their guests from the upper floor and get a ‘sneak peak’ before greeting them, in case they needed to adjust their attire accordingly.
The main party room has a high ceiling with small holes near the top where lanterns were hung at night from the outside to give the appearance of a starlit sky.
In 2004, visits by the public were completely suspended due to renovations; some of the stone used in the original construction was weak and has cracked over the years causing structural problems within the building. As of February 1, 2008, Palau Güell has been partially reopened to the public, with access to limited parts of the building only.
It was used in Antonioni’s film The Passenger as a backdrop for the first meeting between Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider.
Casa Batlló is a building restored by Antoni Gaudi and Josep Maria Jujol, built in the year 1877 and remodelled in the years 1905–1907; located at 43, Passeig de Gracia (passeig is Catalan for promenade or avenue), part of the Illa de la Discordia in the Eixample district of Barcelona.
The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), and indeed it does have a visceral, skeletal organic quality. It was originally designed for a middle-class family and situated in a prosperous district of Barcelona.
The building looks very remarkable — like everything Gaudí designed, only identifiable as Modernisme or Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, is rather astonishing with tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work.
It seems that the goal of the designer was to avoid straight lines completely. Much of the facade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles that starts in shades of golden orange moving into greenish blues. The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinasaur. A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the sword of Saint George (patron saint of Catalonia), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.