Last spring break I went to Barcelona, the city of Gaudí. Even in the side streets I came across the buildings designed by ‘el genio’, Antoni Gaudí. The most impressive work of him was La Sagrada Família which was a project of a lifetime. It became architect’s top priority so that he devoted 43 years of his life and the last 12 working only on the Temple of the Sagrada Família.
It is impossible to understand the process of building without knowing how Gaudí worked. He was always worked with scale plaster models, which he believed that it was the most effective way to experiment the building rather than working on plans. The models and drawings he left behind have allowed later generations to remain true to his work.
” It is not a disappointment that I will not be able to finish the Temple. I will grow old, but others will come after me. This will make it even more grandiose.”
In his studio, Gaudí used models to experiment and creative new shapes for a Christian temple. His workspace is located on the city center which allowed him to draw up his plans right at the site and monitor the progress.
“The site is in the centre of he city and plain of Barcelona, with the same distance separtaing the Temple from the sea and the mountains, Sants and Sant Andreu, and the Besos and Llobregat Rivers.”
The sculptures both on the façade and the interior are so fascinating. Before doing the final version in stone, Gaudí used modelling techniques to create most of the sculptures: he chose a person or animal, made a plaster model and then he made a larger version to make corrections. Still there is a plaster workshop(on the left) which they create new plaster models necessary for the construction of the temple.
In Gaudí’s own word, the Nativity façade was meant to express the “joy and hope of life”. All of its decorations celebrate divine creation and cal for brotherhood. Unfortunately, Gaudí lived to see only one of the four bell towers completed.
“We’ve completed one whole façade of the temple so that its importance will make it impossible to not carry on with the works.”
Gaudí designed the cloisters which surround the Nativity façade in order to isolate it from noise of the expanding city while it also serves as a place for praying if it can’t be held outside due to bad weather. He also designed large openings to let the sunlight flood in the space.
The apse façade is built between 1890 and 1893 which is particularly important because it shows the transition between Villar’s(1) Neo-Gothic architecture and Gaudí’s own style. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary who Gaudí was very devoted to.
(1) Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano was an arcitect who planned la Sagrada Familia but later he abandoned the project as a result of disagreements with the promotors. We can see that his concept followed the prevailing guidelines of the time with Neo-Gothic elements: Latin-cross floor plan, ogival windows buttresses, flying buttresses, a pointed bell tower which we saw them before in our ARCH221 class.
The stained glass windows which are on the apse façade gave a dramatic light experience on the interior.
Lastly, for today, I want to talk about the crypt. The crypt is a semicircular space located below the apse, approximately 10 meters under ground. When Gaudí took over the project from Villar, the work had aldready began on the foundtions and columns, so he respected the Neo-Gothic style but he also made significant changes. He increased the height of the crypt and surrounded it by a ditchthat improve lighnting and allow air to flow underneath. Another significant contribution that Gaudi made to the crypt is to use Roman mosaic on the floor.
I will continue to share my experience in La Sagrada Família.. Before I go, I want to suggest a song to you which my dad recommended to me.