Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Barcelona Part II or the World of Gaudi

Right guys time for another massive post, I really should try and write smaller entries as I'm sure it is hard to read a massive thesis every time you visit, but then my life between my weekends is pretty boring consisting of a long train and bus ride to get to work, a whole day of work and then another long train ride to get back home.

My work is not particularly exciting either, this week I worked on a paper, did some experiments and discovered that a fairly important piece of equipment is completely stuffed, meaning we could only experiment for a third as long as we usually do. During the experiments we also discovered that we have no idea how our crystal is orientated meaning we have to send it off to another group so they can analyse it, exciting stuff really :). Now all I've done is make this post longer than what it would otherwise have been.

I love that house to the left, so Spanish with the orange tree and the blue, blue sky. You may not be able to tell but we have had another solidly grey week in Paris, so I'm starting to suffer withdrawal from the lack of blue sky.

I thought I would finish off what else I got up to in Barcelona, especially as there is now a list of 5/6 places I have to still blog about, man I'm so slack. So anyway after Montserrat it was time for Gaudi, for those who don't know, and I certainly didn't before I visited Barcelona, Gaudi was a modernist architect who died in 1926. Man, was he popular in Barcelona, Barcelona really is the city of Gaudi . I've never really been an architect groupie and there is no way I could pick a particular architect's style by looking at their building, in fact I'd be hard-pressed to name another architect, but I reckon I could always pick Gaudi's style after visiting Barcelona. He certainly was very distinctive.

The first building I visited was the Casa Batlo (in the photo to the left, you may be surprised to know but it was actually pretty easy to spot which was Gaudi's house as you walked along the street) which used to be a normal mansion until the rich owner got Gaudi to completely redesigned it in 1905. The interior really is kind of cool and it would be a fun place to live, he seemed to be a very organic architect, I mean he didn't like straight lines but kept everything curving and flowing.

Now I could give you a whole treatise on architecture and whatnot (well, actually no I couldn't as all I could write is the stuff I remember from the audio tour) but the real reason is I'm just too lazy, why do you think I've only posted 9 times this month. So instead I'll just give you a whole stack of photos from the interior.

This is the light fitting in the ceiling in the main living room, so cool.

Looking down the sky light in the centre of the building. Gaudi was pretty clever here (well of course he was, that's why he's still famous almost 100 years after he died) with the way he worked with the light. He used much lighter blue tiles at the bottom of the well and towards the top, where the light is much brighter the tiles were a much darker blue, giving the impression that the light was the same intensity all the way down. The windows looking out onto the well also got smaller the nearer the top they were, again because there was more light up there and so no need for big windows.

The crazy roof terrace, I think he just went a bit mad when he got up here, perhaps he didn't know what to do with all the light so it was just crazy mosaics and weird dragonesque features, again not many straight lines though.

A door to one of the apartments in the building. It must be cool to live in the building but the sheer numbers of tourists must get to you after awhile. I wonder how many people a day would try your door handle thinking your flat was part of the museum? Gaudi designed the strange number/symbol on each door (very Prince of him, I mean the artist formerly-known-as-Prince, now known as Prince again.)

After Casa Batlo I went off to the Sagrada Familia, another Gaudi building. It's a massive catholic church still under construction it's meant to be finished in 2026, though there is some dispute as to whether that is achievable. Construction began on this church in 1882, Gaudi himself spent 40 years on this church, devoting the last 15 years of his life entirely to the project. Unfortunately he had a habit of destroying his blueprints, add to that the reign of Franco and the anarchists in Spain and most of what Gaudi intended for this church has been lost.

People have mixed reactions to this church, some people love it, some hate it. I really liked it though, I have to say that I've seen a lot of gothic style churches over here recently, and whilst they are quite pretty once you've seen one, you've seen them all. Those old-style gothic architects sure weren't breaking any rules once the first one had been built. This building though is certainly not going to be copied and there was just so much going on that it would keep you occupied for weeks just starting at the facades.

Detail from the Sagrada Familia, that's definitely not gothic!

It was then off to the Park Guell, yet another Gaudi work, built between 1900 and 1914. Originally this place was designed as a housing site but at the time it was only a rocky hill with not much vegetation and in the end only two houses were built there. Gaudi eventually moved into one of them. Now it is just a lovely peaceful park with great views over the city. It also seems to be a place where buskers congregate, so that was fun, just wandering around listening to the different music.

The two buildings at the entrance to the park, designed by Gaudi if you couldn't tell.

The massive crowd and the main terrace of the park. Once you get a little a way from the masses it really is quite peaceful and it has been designed so there are always little private nooks and crannies that you can find.

The top of the main terrace.

The columns supporting this terrace, it really looks like the photo has been split and that the top brown bit of the column is not properly attached to the white bottom bit, I suppose that's what Gaudi was going for.

Another terrace, very Spanish

This is actually a road through the park, as it was originally intended as a housing project Gaudi built a few roads running through the place, but he always did them in such a way that they were unobtrusive and didn't hinder pedestrians.

Now it wasn't all Gaudi, I also visited the gothic quarter, which is the old part of Barcelona. I've heard some people say they don't like this part of the town, but I really liked it. There were no cars, they wouldn't fit down the alley ways, and it was a break from the heat in the cool, dark streets. Plus there were some nice restaurants around the place.

1 comment:

Devin said...

Good to see no additional construction has occurred on the Sagrada since I was there six years ago. I swear it will never be finished!