Church of the Colónia Güell - Spain

Church of the Colónia Güell Santa Coloma de Cervelló – Spain

This church was for the workers of the Colónia Güell industrial village (Santa Coloma de Cervelló,Barcelona), from which it gets its name. The church of Santa Coloma became one of the most-loved of Gaudí’s project’s, and was a type of laboratory for technical tests, of which he later made use of in the Sagrada Família.entrance to the church of the Colonia Guell

Gaudí’s idea is extremely complex, and the church was designed and detailed with the utmost care. Once again the architect thought about the need to unite the monument with its natural setting, and this is the only compositional element used in this work. According to Ràfols the commission for the job dates back to 1898, but it was not until 1908 that the first stone was solemnly laid. The work continued at a very slow pace until 1917, when they were stopped due to the difficulties arising from the Great War. In 1918 Eusebi Güell died in his home in Park Güell, which also meant the end of the work on the church of the industrial village since his heirs, particularly Santiago Güell, were not at all keen on finishing the building. By then the crypt was covered and the stone doorways of the upper church in place. The conception of this church followed lines until then unknown by the architectural profession. Gaudí did not limit himself to drawing and sketching, but tested out a completely new procedure.Firstly he outlined the ideal form of the church that had to have a concentrated ground plan and acute towers; over this first draft Gaudi composed a structure by means of a very simple, but quite brilliant, procedure. He calculated the loads that would have to rest on the arches and pillars and made some small canvas bags filled with pellets, with a weight ten thousand times lighter than the calculated load. He hung these bags from strings that described the forms of the arches at a scale of 1:10. With this, and using a geometric property of this type of curve, he discovered a form called catenary. He took a photograph, which on reversing, produced the suitable and functional form of the arches. In other words, he built the arch precisely from the form of the curve of the pressures.

brick pillars in front of the church

The crypt of the Colónia Güell brings together Gaudí’s artistic plenitude. A portico with paraboloid vaults precedes the church and below another is in the form of a grotto, a constant element in the architecture of Gaudí. The windows, which seem like the open mouths of giant fish, are hyperboloids, and inside the pillars alternate between circular section brick and inclined natural basalt stone from Castellfollit de la Roca (Garrotxa), hardly smoothed down, giving an impressive expressionist effect. Gaudí explained that in the book of Exodus, God, from the burning bush, said to Moses, “If you make me an altar of stone do no carve it with a chisel because metal makes stone impure”. For this reason the pieces of basalt were worked with wooden mallets. Continue reading “Church of the Colónia Güell – Spain

Casa Batlló - Barcelona - Spain

Casa Batllo Barcelona main facade
A simple reform of the facade, new distribution of the partition walls and an enlargement of the well of a building originally built in 1875, gave Gaudí the chance to undertake one of his most poetic and inspired artistic compositions. A stone thrown into a pond full of flowering water lilies would produce the same effect as that of the main facade of Casa Batllo, of an undulating surface covered with polychrome circles of glazed ceramics and different colored fragments of broken glass, the exact position of which Gaudí personally oversaw from the street.

Private strairs with form of a vertebrate spineThe double attic that culminates the facade has a twofold character: animalistic and legendary, having supplied people’s imaginations with the most outrageous interpretations of a supposed dragon fighting Saint George, although the Saint cannot be seen anywhere around, while in a small cylindrical tower which hides a spiral staircase, the anagrams are clearly seen of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in ivory-coloured  glazed ceramic, with the special Gaudian calligraphy, arranged helicoidally below a four-armed cross in Mallorca ceramics. The symbol is therefore of the Holy Family rather than Saint George. Continue reading “Casa Batlló – Barcelona – Spain

Bellesguard Tower - Barcelona - Spain

Bellesguard Tower main facade Barcelona 

In the high of the Sant Gervasi district of Barcelona the widow of Jaume Figueras had a piece of land on which stood some ruins of what was called the Royal Palace of Bellesguard, a country house ordered to be built by King Marti I of the Crown of Aragon in 1410 and which he gave the name Bellesguard  (beautiful view in English) at the request of his secretary, the poet Bernat Metge.

This is the palace where King Martí I married his second wife Margarida de Prades, a wedding officiated by the antipope Benedict XIII. For this historical reason Gaudi conceived a building inspired by late Catalan Gothic. Continue reading “Bellesguard Tower-Barcelona-Spain