Gaudí the Great: Part II
Antoni Gaudí’s limitless creativity and unique style cannot be compared or matched. In Part II of our focus on his work after Jean-Noël’s trip to Barcelona, we look at the acclaimed Sagrada Familia and symbolic Parc Güell.
Sagrada Familia is Gaudí’s most well-known project– in part for its extensive Christian symbolism and significance, in part for its astounding architecture, and in part for its lengthy construction, which is still ongoing. Gaudí began Sagrada Familia in 1882 whilst simultaneously working on other projects. In 1914 he decided to concentrate exclusively on this project, until his death in 1926, at which point the venture was only approximately 20% complete.
Today, the construction has progressed to about 70% and is scheduled to be complete by 2026, the centennial of Gaudí’s death. His vision for the project included 18 towers– four representing the Gospels, twelve representing the Apostles, one representing the Virgin Mary, and the largest representing Jesus Christ. It was his goal to use architecture as a means of expressing Christian beliefs and communicating the message of the Evangalists.
It is clear one of Gaudí’s primary sources of inspiration was Christianity, but the other critical influence was nature. His observation of the natural world inspired him to apply its unique functions to the architectural frameworks and design of the temple. Examples of this include foliage and animal details on the facade, branching columns, and spiral staircases– which also represent the rising movement that links earth with heaven.
There is an infinite depth to the symbolism, inspiration, and function behind every element of this renowned temple. We will be anxiously waiting for nine more years until Gaudí’s vision is complete!
Parc Güell is a public park composed of gardens and organized groupings of homes. Gaudí fully achieved his personal style during this project, using creative liberties to develop imaginative structures that do not adhere to any rigidity of classic form, volume, or design. The park is another example of Gaudí’s incorporation of natural and religious symbols, as well as political symbols relating to Catalanism.
He used shards of tile, similar to Caso Batlló, throughout the park to create these designs and symbols, and to add a playful, colorful, and approachable dynamic to the overall design. Gaudí’s typical use of organic shapes is best expressed in the curved and flowing bench that is covered in mosaic tiles and surrounds the terrace of the park, which overlooks the city of Barcelona.
Gaudí built covered walkways using local stones and natural forms to incorporate them into the landscape. He also used the local stone to add subtle sculptures and other natural forms and symbols into these structures.
It is clear Gaudí– with his playful creativity, incorporation of symbol and meaning, unique sense of form and inspiration, and revolutionary architectural techniques– is one of the great designers and architects of all time.