Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Spain - Works of Antoni Gaudí (1)
La Pedrera (1906-1912). Antoni Gaudi.
Sent by Jordi, a postcrosser from Barcelona, Spain.
This is from UNESCO : The works of Antoni Gaudí represent a series of outstanding examples of the building typology in the architecture of the early 20th century, residential as well as public, to the development of which he made a significant and creative contribution. It is, furthermore, an outstanding and well-preserved example of the ideal garden cities dreamed of by the urbanists of the end of the 19th century. It exhibits an important interchange of values closely associated with the cultural and artistic currents of his time, as represented in El Modernisme of Catalonia. It anticipated and influenced many of the forms and techniques that were relevant to the development of modern construction in the 20th century.
Gaudí was born in 1852 in Reus, a small town south of Barcelona, and he died in a street accident in 1926. The intellectual context towards the end of the 19th century in Catalonia was marked by Modernisme, a movement that extended from around 1880 to the First World War, parallel to currents such as Naturalism, Arts and Crafts, and Art Nouveau. It was motivated by return to traditions as an expression of national identity, as well as by the introduction of modern techniques and materials. Modernisme differed from the other movements by becoming important for popular cultural identity. Gaudí's work represents the genius of the architect, expressing particular spatial qualities and plasticity in the undulating lines and harmonies of colours and materials in architectural surfaces and sculpted features.
His main undertaking is the church of Sagrada Familia, based on the Latin cross. The work had been started by architect Francesc de P. del Villar in 1882 in Gothic revival style. In 1883 Gaudì made fundamental changes to the first project and continued the work until his death. The crypt was built in 1884-89 and the Nativity facade finished in 1905. The four fantastic bell towers were finished in 1925-30. The transept elevation of the Passion was started in 1960, and construction of the church still continues.
Casa Vicens, a suburban residence, was the first independent design by Gaudí, built in 1883-88 and enlarged in 1925 by Serra Martinez in consultation with Gaudí. The design combines mastery in brick and a variety of Valencia tile. Its wrought ironwork is remarkable. In the interior, there is a fine series of painted wall decorations. The luxury villa of El Capricho (1883), near Comillas, Santander Province, was commissioned by a rich industrialist. The architecture has similarities with the Casa Vicens, reflecting Catalan influences.
In 1884, Gaudí designed the pavilions of the Güell estate, with porter's lodge and stables, in the suburban areas of Barcelona. Most spectacular is the imaginative dragon gate. The Parc Güell (1900-14), a garden-city of 60 lots, is an incontestable masterpiece, the final blossoming of 19th-century eclecticism. He was invited in 1887 to plan a new episcopal palace at Astorga. This granite building with its vaulted interiors reflects the medieval character of the nearby Gothic cathedral. Work on the college of the Teresianas had already started when Gaudí was invited to take on the project. The building is severe and consisting of a single elongated rectangular block.
Gaudí was commissioned in 1902-4 to study the renovation and restoration of the Gothic cathedral of Palma de Mallorca, La Seu (1300-1600). Gaudí's project resulted in spatial and structural changes and the new design of various details especially around the main altar. He removed the large traditional choir structures, placing the elements on the sides, and opening up the central nave. In 1898 came a commission to design a church for the Colónia Güell, a community working in textile industry outside Barcelona. The work started in 1908, but was interrupted in 1914 with only the Crypt built. This unique structure was used by Gaudí to experiment building in brick and stone, stretching the possibilities of traditional Catalan structures to their utter limits.
The other buildings making up the World Heritage site are: Casa de Botines (1892), Casa Calvet (1898), the residential villa of Figueras, or Casa Bellesguard (1900) and Casa Batlló (1904-7), an urban residence in Barcelona.