For so many years I have heard about Gaudi and his work in Barcelona. He is known for his whimsical architecture and nature-inspired design. Seeing is work in person was certainly was worth it. I visited most of his buildings and gardens, including the apartment building La Pedrera. His attention to detail is amazing. He used organic shapes threaded throughout the architecture and interestingly-shaped chimney stacks on the roof. There is museum on the rooftop showing the progress of his design and evolution through scale models, plans and objects. You get a sense of how he developed his ideas and brought them to fruition. There is an apartment that you can walk through and he see how he laid out his spaces. I think he sacrificed some functionality to fufill his aesthetic goals. In general, when you look at the building and the lobby, even the most miniscule elements were embellished with with tile, metal, wood, or anything that he could get his hands on.
I also visited the Palau Guell, a private residence which was built between 1885-1890 with a much more somber construction. The space is still loaded with details but feels very introverted. You don’t get a sense a light and openness when you walk through. Gaudi used staircase rails, stained glass, and carved plaster throughout the space. Only when you reach the roof do you feel a sense of lightness and spirit in his design.
Out of all the private residences he designed, the one that I enjoyed the most is Casa Batllo. He plays with color and the space has a strong art neuvou influence. He uses almost anatomical elements in the design, like ribs and gills.
His crowning glory is the cathedral, Sagrada Familia, which is still under construction even after many decades of work. It soars to the heavens with a great sense of lightness, because it is all built out of light-colored stone juxtaposed by bronzes depicting the life of Jesus. There are several entrances, each with signficance about the life of Christ. All in all I have gained a great respect for a man whose dreams were made into reality. He was truly one of the most individual architects of the 19th and early 20th Centuries whose work spoke of his vision…a very different contrast to Mies van der Rohe.
In Barcelona, you can take a funicular (tram) to see the Miro museum. It’s worth seeing, there are beautiful Miro pieces at the museum. You can take a walk to the National Museum Catalunya, which was built for the same world’s fair as Mies’ Pavilion. It’s a lovely walk and you will certainly enjoy it.
It was three hectic of touring, walking, and trying to absorb the city. In between, I saw my goddaughter who lives in Barcelena and drank some good Spanish wine. All in all, three productive days.