Barcelona and Gaudi

Did Gaudi make any pots? Don’t think so, or not that I could find, but he sure designed some remarkable buildings and used ceramics to adorn many of them. Barcelona can safely be called his city, and where ever you turn there seems to be something of his influence.

Of course there is huge variety in the architecture ‘on display’, but those in the ‘Modernisme’ style, of which Antonio Gaudi was the leading exponent, stand out. The flamboyant organic integration of styles, most obviously Art Nouveau and Gothic, along with Islamic influences are executed in a variety of materials, that includes ceramic panels and lots of decorative details. Particularly striking is the flowing façade of the Casa Batllo which is adorned flamboyantly with fragments of blue, mauve and green mosaic, and the building is capped with an undulating blue tiled roof. With its ripple like window frames and balconies it is described as his most beautiful secular building.

Of course the most famous and most dramatic of his designs is the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, which he worked on for 43 years, the last 12 of which were devoted to preparing plans for how the building was to be finished. These remained incomplete at the time of his death, the construction and indeed some aspects of the design are still in progress; like the great Gothic cathedrals, this building will keep generations of craftsmen in work. Completion is expected in 2020. Jordi Fauli, Deputy Architectural Director describes it as a ‘construction devoted to geometric perfection and sacred symbolism…(an) architectural synthesis of natural form’. It’s hard to describe the impact of the interior which soars above you, the roof structure an intersecting complex of buttresses and decorative detail. The structural and the visual blend into an astounding canopy suspended above you, a feeling that is enhanced by the tree like columns. As an architectural wonder, it has to impress; as a place of spiritual contemplation, well, it is less easy (impossible?) to appreciate as you make your way through the jostling throng of visitors craning their necks for a view and posing for the camera.

- Nick C







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