Everything that any architect could need… Is already in natural forms in nature.
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain, which has an area of 101 km² and a population of 1.6 million. It located at the Mediterranean coast, between the mouths of the rivers, Llobregat and Besòs.
One of the most famous labels for Barcelona perhaps is that almost all of Antoni Gaudi’s work is in there. For example, the Casa Batlo, Parc Guell, and Sagrada Família, which all famous for Gaudi’s individualized style. According to himself, he inspired by the observation from nature. GhaffarianHoseini (2011) notes that Gaudi’s style is between the Gothic and modernism, but it does not belong to either of them at all.
Casa Batllo is symbolism architecture, which full of organic elements. It is a six-story townhouse, locating in the heart of Barcelona’s Park Avenue. Gaudi designed and transformed it for a wealthy family. From interior to the exterior, there are all curves and natural forms, including the window, door, ceiling and furniture. His design allowed a substantial building to flow. The whole building had no boundaries and no corners. (Ghaffarian Hoseini, 2011).
Apart from the meticulous craftsmanship in the visual aspect, the functionality of the house is not inferior. These include maximizing the natural light, ergonomic furniture design and considerations for use in different seasons.
Park Guell occupies 15 hectares in the rural area of the city. Euesbio Guell bought it in 1899 with the willing to transfer it into a city garden. Gaudi designed and built it for the upper class between 1900 to 1914. Then, the project stopped due to the commercial failure. Barcelona city council took over it and made it as a public park. It is worth to notice that the whole project was a part of the city expansion planning. The Park Guell has extensive use of mosaic on the design. Broken glazed tiles have covered all of the curved surfaced.
The world has evaluated Sagrada Família as Gaudi’s most outstanding work. Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 and worked for 43 years on the temple until 1926. He said, “My client is not in a hurry.” That is Like a prophecy, the temple was built over three centuries and not completed yet. The implication is that he built this church for his God (Fraser, 2015).
The assessment of this church is quite controversial. One the one hand the Sagrada Família is impressed because of its unique and organic shape. The colourful glasses and huge pillars of the church make people feel like they are in a forest. When I stand inside the Church, is like surrounded by towering trees, the sun shrouds the face through the foliage. on the other hand, the modernism founders Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius thought it as a folly, a stupid theme park (Fraser, 2015).
On the day I visited, it was still crowded despite the rain. There are many tourists from all over the world and want to glimpse the exuberance of the forms and their capricious appearance. Comparing with other Cathedrals, it is not outstanding for the magnificent volume. It is because of the difference. Gaudi’s innovation is the combination of simple geometrical shapes.
Regarding urban design, Gaudi’s architecture is undoubtedly the precious of Barcelona’s unique cultural and historical resources. Especially in the post-industrial era, tourism has become one of the pillar industries in Barcelona. I am still curious about what prompted Gaudi’s unique architecture and Barcelona’s inclusion ability. It is said that because of Gaudi’s time was a confused era in Spain. The failure of the war with the United States in 1898 and Cuba’s independence in 1901 was a shattering dream of Spain’s great power. That was a time that opinions on the country’s future were divergent, and some argued that there were people in Europe who advocated further reliance on Europe.
The point is if we can figure out what prompted Gaudi’s creativity and urban inclusiveness, it would be a very excellent model for urban regeneration. Therefore , if you have any opinions, welcome the discussion.
Fraser, G. (2018). Barcelona’s Sagrada Família: Gaudí’s ‘cathedral for the poor’ – a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 49. The Guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jun/03/barcelona-sagrada-familia-gaudi-history-cities-cathedral-poor-church-religion [Accessed 19 May 2018].