|Antoni Gaudí i
Cornet (1852- 1926)
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was born the 25th of June
1852 in Reus, Catalonya. His father was a smith and other family members were potters.
Gaudí himself was very soon interested in crafts like baking tiles, woodworks and
bricklaying, and he got the talent to make three-dimensional objects. Gaudí moved to
Barcelona around I869 where he started studying architecture. Gaudí was a bachelor, and
his widower father and niece came to live with him later. During his studies he took part
in public works, like the fountain of the Ciutadellapark and he designed the lampposts for
the Plaça Reial. He finished studying in 1878. Because of his socialist points of view,
he joined immediately after finishing his studies the workers cooperation, 'Cooperative
Mataro', which resulted in the building of their headquarters. But very soon he came in
contact with the intellectual and aristocratic elite of the city, and even became part of
them later on. Eusebio Güell, a rich textile merchant was charmed by Gaudí's works,
which resulted in lots of building orders. The young Gaudí was influenced by neo-Gothic
architecture, but he felt the need to mix those styles with something new. Together with
other Barcelonese architects, a new style was developed to express the Catalan nationalist
feeling : Modernism. But Gaudí's style was different, and maybe that's why he is without
doubt the most famous architect of this period. The rich aristocracy supported him, as did
most of the sculptors ,painters and architects who worked for him. His initial success was
due to the support of older architects like Juan Martorell, and to his many important
friends, like Bishop Grau. Gaudí had a strong character, and was very independent. His
ideas were, opposite to his spectacular works, very conservative as he belonged to the
right wing High Church aristocrats. Until 1900, Gaudí was capable of mixing neo-Gothic
and Modernism. From around 1900 onwards, he experimented freely and his work became more
spectacular. In 1910 Gaudís work came to the attention of the outside world when
Gull paid for an exhibition of Gaudís work in Paris, which attracted a widespread
public. Although his standing was high in Barcelona by 1911, many people thought Gaudí
was mad, but they understood what motivated him : his obsession with religion,and his
dedication to Catalan nationalism. He was appreciated for the fact that he tried to give
Barcelona its own identity, but nevertheless the buildings like Palau Guell, Casa
Batllo,Casa Mila and the stylistic exaggerations of the Sagrada Familia made him more and
more vulnerable to public abuse.
In his later years Gaudí became a recluse, saddened by the deaths of his father and
closest friends, like Guell. Because his most important client had died and the
extravagant Modernism died out as a style, he devoted himself to the building of the
Sagrada Familia. During the last years of his life he lived in the crypt of the church,
and was completely obsessed with religion. His designs became less fanciful and much more
dramatic. In 1926 Gaudí died in an accident, as he got caught by a tram. He died, not
being recognized, between the poor in the Hospital de Sant Pau.
Ciutadellapark 1876 - 1882
During his studies, Gaudí got the opportunity to participate in the building of the
Ciutadellapark, as assistant of architect Fontseré. His participation was limited to the
building of the fountain, and some metalwork railings.
Located at Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona
of the Plaça Reial 1878 - 1879
Also during his studies he designed the lamppost for this new square. Thanks to the
experience he gained with working with metal in the railings of the Ciudadellapark, he
knew he was able to work properly with this material.
Located at Plaça Reial, Barcelona
Cooperative 1878 - 1882
Being a member of this workers organization, Gaudí designed this headquarters and factory
for this cooperation, ' La obrera Mataronese '. Only a clubhouse and the wooden
machineshed were built.
Located at Maresme Spain.
Casa Vicens 1878 - 1885
Gaudí's first important building for a private client was this summerholiday house for
tilemerchant Manuel Vicens. Plans were made in 1879, but the constructionworks only took
place between 1883 and 1885. It was built in the Néo - Mudejar style, with bricks, almost
completely covered with colored glazed tiles ( manufactured by the owner of the house
ofcourse ), and wrought iron decorations. The structure of the house itself was also
important, as it was the first time Gaudí used a typical Catalan archstructure, which he
would use many more times later.
Located at Carrer dels Carolines 24, Barcelona
El Capricho 1883 - 1885
Gaudí built this summerhouse for Maximo Diaz de Quijano, popularly known as 'the
caprice'. He looked for surprising details and effects with colored tiles accentuating the
Located at Comillas, Santander
Pavillions 1884 - 1887
Gaudí has built for this countryhouse the pavilions at the entrance, including a porters
lodge, stables, gateways and railings. Gaudí's fascination for dragons is very obvious :
the dragongate looks quite scary.
Located at Avinguda de Pedralbres 7, Barcelona
Episcopal palace 1887 - 1894
Gaudí was commissioned for this mansion by his friend, the bishop of Astorga. The
building is not completely Gaudí 's work, as he stopped building when the bishop died,
and other architects took over.
Located at Astorga.
Theresiano 1888 - 1890
This severe and religious teaching college needed a building with the same
characteristics. As the budget was limited, Gaudí designed a rational building with
little decorations. Original however where the long corridors covered with parabolic
arches, symbolizing hooded nuns.
Located at Ganduxer 87, Barcelona.
Güell Palace 1886 - 1891
Eusebio Güell was a very progressive man and his house had to be a place where the
intelligent, cultural elite of Barcelona could meet in a kind of a museum-like setting.
This was Gaudi's first really large-scale project. Berenguer was of great help for Gaudi,
as he made the preparatory drawings. The space was very limited, only 12 by 18 metros,
very small to built a palace on. Because the house is situated in a narrow street, Gaudi
decided to direct the building onto the inside. The facade is rather severe, but the
wrought iron gate indicates it is one of Gaudi's works. Fantasy takes over in the interior
and on the roof. The palace shows a wide variety of roofs, windows, doors, chimneys and
stairs. Columns are present in 40 different forms, from heavy brick pillars in the cellar
for the horses, to fine marble columns, based on those of the 'Alhambra palace'. Central
is the courtyard with a great dome rising up like a church, and like most rooms. The roof
offers a unique sight with the enormous number of chimneys being abstract sculptures,
covered with glazed ceramic, marble and crystal.
Located at Nou de la Rambla 3, Barcelona
Casa de los
Botines 1891 - 1894
Gaudí built this large mansion for Fernandez - Arbós of Leon, textilemerchants and
friends of Eusebio Güell. The ground floor and basement were warehouses for cloths, the
main part was the residence for the owners, and the rest of the building was let as flats.
The house looks simple, and no bright colors were used.
Located in Leon.
Casa Calvet 1898 - 1904
This house was built for textile manufacturer Pedro Calvet. It's a typical bourgeois
house, and the façade isn't that spectacular. It's his most conventional building. Gaudí
was at that time still searching for his personal style. He experimented with an
illuminated courtyard and staircases, using the Baroque art as an example. Gaudi designed
a large amount of furniture for this house.
Located at Carrer de Caps 48, Barcelona
Colonia Güell 1898 - 1915
Güell wanted a workers colony with a church, round his factory. Berenguer was in charge
for most of the building of the colony, but Gaudí made designs for the church. The
construction was made of domes made of brick and plaster. He worked for almost 20 years on
Located at Santata Coloma de Cervelló
Bellesguard 1900 - 1909
This property had been the summerhouse of the last Catalonian king, Marti 1. The outside
looks Gothic, but the inside is typical for Gaudí. Much attention was given to the roof,
the attic and the courtyard. There are some beautiful details, like the iron gate and
stained glass windows.
Located at Carrer Bellesguard, Barcelona
Casa Battló 1904 - 1906
Gaudí carried out the restoration of this old building for the textile manufacturer
Battló. A new roof, façade and interior had to be designed. At this time Gaudí had
found his own personal style, and didn't use historical styles as an example anymore. This
has become in every way a spectacular building. The façade and roof are in colorful
mosaic, the balconies look like facial bones of giant animals, and the roof represents the
back of a prehistoric animal. The interior was also marvelous, with openings trough which
light penetrates throughout the house. The staircase courtyard is impressive by form. The
furniture he designed for this house is displayed at Casa Gaudí in Parc Guell.
Located at Passeig de Gracia 43, Barcelona
Casa Milá ( La
Pedrera) 1906 -1910
This was his last private commission before he devoted himself to religious projects.
Gaudí was free to design this corner block of apartments the way he wanted. His goal was
to create a completely new form of housing. The ideas for it developed out of the ideas of
the Casa Battló, but go even further in exaggeration and distortion. With this building
Gaudí shows to be a genius of great intelligence and with an enormous creativity. La
Pedrera is the architectural demonstration of his interpretation of nature : the massive
blocks of stone of the façade recall the mountains, the curves of the façade reflect the
sea, and the ironworks represent plants and flowers. Gaudí once said that there are no
straight lines in nature', and that's why the building has a completely curvilinear form.
In contrast with other of his buildings, the façade was not colorful, as he wanted the
inhabitants to grow flowers and plants on their balconies, to add color to the walls. The
building has no reinforcing walls, and is supported by stone or brick columns and
metalwork, some of those pillars are visible in the inner courtyard. The roof is vaulted
by hundreds of brick arches, visible on the top floor. Every corner is asymmetrical, with
niches everywhere. On the roof fantasy and abstract surrealism takes over. Stairs wind
between abstract formed chimneys, under colorful mosaic arches and round ventilators,
looking like hooded people. In my opinion this is one of the most fantastic buildings of
that period. Because of the extravagance of the building , Gaudí got a lot of negative
reactions on this project. As he was tired of defending himself, he decided to devote
himself to the building of religious projects. The building had been neglected, until the
1980's when it was renovated, and from that moment it became a very important tourist
attractions in Barcelona.
Located at Passeig de Gracia 92, Barcelona.
Güell 1900 -1914
Count Eusebio Güell, one of the wealthiest men of Catalonya, admired English garden
cities, and wanted to create a residential garden suburb, for which he commissioned
Gaudí. This was his first urban development project. Pedestrian paths and roads climbed
on the mountain, trough trees, overlooking the city. Central a large square was built,
with a covered lower part serving as a marketplace, and on top, an open air theater for
recreational, cultural or social events, also serving as a surface for the collection of
rainwater in a gigantic cistern placed underneath. At the main entrance of the park, there
was a high wall to give the inhabitants of this isolated area a secure feeling. Also at
the entrance there was a porter's lodge and an office built( the one with the cross on
top). Right in front of the entrance are the cascades and dragonfountain, designed by
Jujol. Gaudí got a lot of assistance for this projects : Jujol made lots of decorative
elements for and Berenguer worked out the calculations and practicalities, and designed
one house, Casa Gaudí , where Gaudí lived in during the building of the park. The
covered marketplace exists of 100 classical Doric columns, supporting the upper part, and
creating a very mysterious atmosphere. The open air theater is surrounded with a gigantic
serpentine bench, decorated with spectacular mosaics. The form of the bench was created by
one of the workmen, lying in a bed of plaster. It took five years only to build the bench,
but it has become without doubt a masterpiece. It was the intention to create a real
village, but only three houses were built. Project Parc Güell failed, as no investors
were found, and when World War I broke out, the building stopped completely. The park
remained the private garden of the Güell family, until the 1920's, when the family handed
it over to the municipality, to use it as a public park.
Located at Carrer d'Olot, Barcelona
Familia 1883 - 1926
Gaudí wasn't the first nor the last architect to work on this gigantic project. In 1869 a
catholic businessman, Bocabella, wanted to found a church together with a school for
children of the working class. This was why until 1900 it was called the cathedral of the
poor, but in 1905, when middle-class became powerful, the cathedral became a symbol for
Barcelona. The owners of the church were the 'spiritual association of the devotees of
Saint Joseph'. Architect Fransesc Paula del Villar was commissioned to build the cathedral
in 1882, but after he started the building of the neo Gothic crypt, he withdraw from the
project and Gaudí took over. First he completed Villar's crypt and choir, and it was only
years later, in the late 1890's that Gaudí's own style began to dominate. Gaudí was
completely dedicated to what became his last project before his sudden death. He lived in
the crypt of the church, between scale models and plans. Nature and religion were his most
important subjects, and he was obsessed with imitating the exact forms of nature. His
assistants made hundreds of photographs, drawings and scale models of natural forms,
animals, plants and human bodies. He wanted to give every part of the church a different
theme. The three major façades represent Birth, Passion and Death, and Glorification,
with four towers at each façade, twelve in total (one for each apostle). The
towers are 107 meters tall, have a structure of vertical ribs, surrounded by horizontal
rings and are full of references to nature. The spires are real masterworks, existing of
concrete decorated with colorful mosaic and glass. Every part of the building should be
considered as a project on its own, as it is so detailed and varied. The facade of the
Nativity, for example is full of details, like the representation of the massacre of the
innocents,but in general it looks like frond-like or wave-like forms which ripple up the
portal. The outline forms of the towers, and the general appearance intended had probably
been fixed by around 1906. Gaudi finished the crypt, the apse and the Nativity façade,
the rest was finished by colleagues. One spire was completed just after Gaudis
death, the other three soon after. Gaudi left a number of models for the completion of the
nave and the other two main facades. Some time after Gaudi's death in 1926, the building
was stopped and in 1936 a fire destroyed most of the preparatory drawings and photographs.
From 1940 on, the construction works were started again, which was not easy because almost
no plans were left. Until now it is still not completed only eight towers are finished
now. Gaudí would have hated the fact that his building has become a commercial tourist
attraction, and not a religious symbol. Question is if the cathedral will ever be
finished, not only because it's too expensive to build, but to keep the myth alive.
Located at Plaça de La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona