Working at the forefront of Catalan Modernism, Antoni Gaudí fascinated and inspired generations of architects, designers, and even engineers. Having a special ability to synthesize the tradition and the courage to new technical solutions, he created some of the most imaginative architectural forms in history, all of them in his native Catalonia.
Inventive, daring, and flamboyant, but also highly personal, the Antoni Gaudí work was inspired by his greatest passions in life: architecture, nature and religion. Gaudí studied organic and anarchic geometric forms of nature thoroughly, searching for a way to give expression to these forms in architecture. A devout Catholic, his work contains many references to religious themes, becoming known as the “God’s Architect”. As a great craftsman, he designed all the architectural space filled elements, from works from forged iron, furniture and ceramics to sculptures, mosaics and stained glass windows.
Antoni Gaudi – A Man of Innovations
The Antoni Gaudí architecture brought both constructional and functional innovations, including biomimicry, the use of hyperbolic paraboloid vaults, the use of inverted scale models of the proposed structures, integration of iron and reinforcement of concrete into construction, a way of designing ceramic mosaics from waste pieces, a new technique for stained glass, etc.
He once explained that architects must possess “remarkable aptitudes and iron discipline”:
[The architect is] the synthetic man who sees things clearly as a whole before they are done, who situates and connects the elements in their plastic relationship and at the right distance, like their static quality and polychrome sense.
From 1914, Gaudí completely devoted himself to Sagrada Família, moving into his workshop inside the basilica. Increasingly leading an ascetic existence towards the end of his life, he stopped shaving and often wore shabby, ragged clothing. On June 7th, 1926, Gaudí was hit by a tram along the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes.
Due to his unkempt appearance, people thought he was a beggar and it took some time before he was taken to the hospital where he got only rudimentary care. He was identified as the famous architect the next day, but it was too late – he died two days later, on June 10th, 1926. He was laid to rest in the crypt of the Sagrada Família.
We bring you five Antoni Gaudí buildings which testify to his eclectic and very personal style, which contributed significantly to the development of architecture and building technology. All of these buildings were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Featured image: The Dome of the Sagrada Família Basilica. All images Creative Commons.