Asymmetrical layouts, visionary facades, curved lines, pristine forms and colorful ceramic tiles on top: To this day the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí has shaped the cityscape of Barcelona like no other.
To study architecture in Barcelona: With this dream the sixteen year-old Antoni Gaudí left his hometown Reus in 1868. Once he got there the Catalan port city never let him go. From study to death – his entire life and work took place in Barcelona. If you walk through the city with your eyes wide open, you can still discover Gaudí’s unique style in many city alleys: round, organic shapes with unconventional patterns and floral elements.
Typical Gaudí: fantasy, forms and colors
Gaudí’s playful and colorful style made his buildings internationally famous. His childhood influences are clearly notable: the son of a boilermaker had an excellent understanding of space. Moreover, his connection to nature is reflected in all his works. Already the young architect’s first autonomous work – Casa Vicens (1888) in central Barcelona – shows the typical ground elements such as the use of pristine forms and vibrant colors.
In the following years Gaudí perfected his art. He designed buildings like Casa Batlló and Casa Milà that were registered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984. The façade of Casa Batlló seems fluid, appears to well up and shines like the surging surface of the sea. Since Gaudí viewed his buildings as total works of art, he even designed the interior. The roof of Casa Milà hides an artful detail: invisible to inattentive visitors you can find a phantom society of air shafts and chimneys that resemble spooky figures.
Eusebi Güell – friend and contracting authority
Gaudí’s work is closely linked to his friend and patron, the industrialist Eusebi Güell, who is not only responsible for numerous projects, but Gaudí also owes him a great part of his prestige. Their biggest project was Park Güell, a garden high above Barcelona and with a splendid view over the city. Gaudí adjusted the construction plans to the match the hilly landscape which resulted in an organic integration of individual elements and forms.
Gaudí’s masterpiece: Sagrada Família
Antoni Gaudí’s most famous work is the Cathedral Sagrada Família. Although the construction is not yet completed it is already regarded as the city’s landmark. Gaudí oversaw the construction of the cathedral for 43 years of his life. As of 1914 he devoted his entire attention to Sagrada Família until the tragic events in the summer 1926: on his daily way to the construction site he got hit by a tram and died of his injuries on July 10, 1926. He was buried inside the crypt to find peace at the construction he had committed his life to. He left his successors detailed plans to finish the cathedral. In 2026 – the year of the one hundredth anniversary of his death – the cathedral is meant to be finished according to Gaudís’ plans.
Updated: November 21, 2018
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