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Gaudi's Barcelona: A Visual Treat

Posted by
on March 11, 2014 at 06:29 PM

To Barcelona, architecture may be so much more than just Gaudi. But Antonio Gaudi is, and will always remain the heart of the city, his ideas breathing form into the very design of the city, its many crevices and corners, making Barcelona the visual treat that it is. Inspiring millions of architects from all over the world, and also an integral part of architectural education, Gaudi's distinctive style finds its way on The Future of Design! 

© Courtesy of Aniruddha Mahale

When one thinks of Barcelona, Spain, as an architectural destination, one striking name  immediately comes to mind, apart from the tapas, and the endless supply of sangria- that of Antonio Gaudi, Master architect, and design genius. 

From the very beginning his designs were different from those of his contemporaries. Over the course of his career, Gaudi developed a sensuous, curving, almost surreal design style which established him as the innovative leader of the Spanish Art Nouveau movement. With little regard for formal order, he juxtaposed unrelated systems and altered established visual order, as can be seen so starkly in his famous masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia.  A monumental church dedicated to the Holy Family, the finest example of his visionary genius, the worldwide symbol of Barcelona and also the Cathedral of the third Millennium, Sagrada Familia is an interesting architectural building. To this date, the building with its unfinished towers fills in an impressive piece in the Barcelona skyline, its spires offering a bird’s eye view of the beautiful city. 

Gaudi's characteristically warped form of Gothic architecture has always drawn admiration from other avant-garde artists, known for his design which was rightly ahead of its times. Known for his understanding of structure and decoration using colour, light, and sculpture, Antonio Gaudi’s work has been the subject of extensive investigation and analysis. Although categorized with the Art Nouveau, Gaudi created an entirely original style.

The style can be clearly observed in a variety of Gaudi’s designs, be it Casa Batllo or Casa Mila, redesigned apartment buildings with incrassate facades and creative floors. The facades of both the buildings are similar in form, and in terms of aesthetical appeal, with their tracery irregular oval windows, and flowing sculpted stone work, key features of most of Gaudi’s designs.

But Gaudi’s designs aren’t only about creating visually stunning architectural masterpieces, organic in form, and liquid like in appearance. Bellesguard, an exquisite Manor house and Casa Vicens, a family home, break away from Gaudi’s norms of organic forms, rooting towards functionality and structural systems. Casa Calvet, on the other hand, can be clearly considered as one of his conventional works. Its symmetry, balance and orderly rhythm are unusual for Gaudí's works. But then again, most of his structures are steel structures, complete with curtain walls, making the facades self-supporting and effortlessly organic. 

Beyond such residential projects, Gaudi also ventured into urban level interventions. Park Güell, a garden complex with architectural elements is one of the world's most intriguing parks. Spread out over 17 hectares, it features as one of Europe’s largest architectural attractions. The park's colourful main staircase and the fanciful pavilions that were designed by Antonio Gaudí look like they belong in some fairy tale- with their organic forms, bedecked with small colourful mosaic tiles. Gaudi himself lived in a house he had designed within the park, which functions as a museum on the architect’s life now.

It often seems as though architects, when designing for Barcelona take more risks and use brighter colours than they would when designing for other cities, and we have Antonio Gaudi to thank for that. It is as though Gaudí brings out a brave streak in even the most conservative of architects. To Barcelona, architecture may be so much more than just Gaudí. But Antonio Gaudi is, and will always remain the heart of the city, his ideas breathing form into the very design of the city, its many crevices and corners, making Barcelona the visual treat that it is.

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