Gaudi's Barcelona - Part II
Antoni Gaudi. What can I tell you about him? A lot. A sculptor. A blacksmith. A carpenter. A craftsman. An architect with a lot of imagination. A genius who could work wonders with non-living materials like stone, iron and wood. A lot of people dream and plan. Gaudi not only dreamed, he brought life to his dreams.
Gaudi was born in Reus on June 25, 1852. His father was a coppersmith in the nearby village of Riudoms. He was the youngest of five children and although he left Reus at an early age to go to love in Barcelona, he always kept a strong attachment to the country. Young Antoni loved to go hiking. While he was out in the country and in the mountains, he would take note of everything he saw because he was always eager to learn any lesson nature might have in store for him.
Later, his long walks in the country and his keen sense of observation made him realize that nature was offering him solutions to the problems he was encountering in his buildings. And so he began to apply to architecture the lessons he had learned from everyday life. (Source)
As said earlier, Gaudi took a lot of inspiration from nature. When you walk into the cathedral, you have to imagine that you are in a forest. When you do, a lot of his work will start making sense.
Gaudi didn't just 'take inspiration'. He implemented them in his work. His work was always organic and coherent. His work was not just decorative, but also functional. These columns look like tree trunks with branches - he studied how exactly the branches of a tree support the weight of its crown and applied the same principles to his columns.
The Nativity Facade - the only portion of the cathedral Gaudi could finish in his life time. It is so intricate with so many details! There are more than thirty different species of plants corresponding to thirty varieties cultivated in the Holy Land. Plants, animals and geometric figures cover the entire construction; each with its own symbolism. (Source)
After his death, other architects took over and continued based on Gaudi's sketches and notes.
He photographed the resulting model from various angles, and the exact shape of the church's structure was obtained by turning them upside-down. The weights would reflect the mass of the building when it was completed. And those strings would take a certain shape or form, hanging in "pure tension." Then Gaudi would carefully measure it and photograph it from various angles and turn the photo upside down . . so that he could find exactly where the column should go so that the finished building would act in pure compression. This was extremely time consuming and labor intensive. (Source)
Model of the bowl that we saw on the ceiling.
I've edited this photo a lot so that the colors are more visible. It actually looks quite bland in person.
La Pedrera was built as two apartment blocks with independent entrances linked by two large inner courtyards and a sinuous common façade that conveys the rhythm of the interior. The structure of the house is made of pillars and contains an open plan floor with large openings on the façade. The building marked a break with the architectural language of Gaudí’s work in terms of innovation in both the functional aspects and the constructive and ornamental ones.
Gaudí planned Casa Milà (1906–1912) at the age of fifty-three, when he was at the height of his powers and had found a style of his own independent of any established ones. It turned out to be his last civil work and one of the most innovatory in its functional, constructive and ornamental aspects. Indeed, thanks to his artistic and technical ideas, it has always been considered a breakthrough work, outside the concepts of the time, a rara avis in Modernisme itself and, especially, a work that anticipated the architecture of the 20th century.
Casa Milà is the fourth and final work Gaudí did on Passeig de Gràcia, the main avenue of the city at the time. It linked the old Barcelona, which by then had demolished its walls, with the town of Gràcia.
Although its official denomination is Casa Milà because it was a building initiative of that family, who also took up residence there, it was soon given the nickname ‘La Pedrera’, which alludes ironically, as we have said, to the appearance of the exterior, reminiscent of an open quarry.
I hope you found this post informative. Seeing Gaudi's work in person was exhilarating to say the least. If you are a creative soul or not, going through his work and learning about him will give you a rush and leave you stimulated for a long time.
Next post on my agenda is Al Hambra. And then a quick post on Mezquita in Cordoba. Or maybe I should write about all the food we ate in Spain. No, it should be about the Flamenco show we watched. Decisions decisions!
See you soon Insha Allah.