The life of Gaudí
Born in the Catalonia region of Spain in 1852, as a child Gaudí suffered from a number of health complications. While most kids would be disappointed to have to spent their time resting, Gaudí used the opportunity to begin studying the nature around him, which would later serve as inspiration for much of his architecture.
Moving to Barcelona around 1870, Gaudí began his studies in architecture before eventually graduating in 1878. At the time of his graduation, the Director of the School of Architecture, Elies Rogent, proclaimed “I do not know if we have awarded this degree to a madman or to a genius; only time will tell.” I think we can all agree the latter proved to be true.
Over his career, Gaudí was responsible for a wide variety of projects, many of which were completed, some were never started, and one is still in progress today! Seven of these unique and eclectic works have now been recognised by the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Gaudí passed away suddenly in 1926 at the age of 73, after being struck by a tram on the streets of Barcelona. The loss of such an icon was felt by many, with a huge crowd there to bid him farewell in the crypt of his greatest achievement, La Sagrada Familia.
His life’s work
Casa Vicens (1883-1885)
Casa Vicens by Kristijan Arsov
Casa Vicens was the first major project completed by Gaudí. Commissioned by Manel Vicens i Montaner, a relatively young Gaudí was entrusted to build a summer house for the Vicens family. Influenced by oriental design, this fabulous home now serves as a museum dedicated to showcasing the incredible work.
Güell Palace (1886-1888)
Güell Palace, or Palau Güell, was the first of a number of commissions made from the industrialist Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi. The palace is centred around the main room which was purpose built for entertaining high society guests.
Image by Thomas Ledl - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70528674
Colegio de las Teresianas (1888-1890)
Built during Gaudí’s neo-Gothic period, Colegio de las Teresianas, was actually first commissioned to another architect. Gaudí took over the works once the first floor had already been built, but reimagined what the remaining floors were to look like.
Image by Canaan / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
Casa Calvet (1898 - 1899)
Known for being one of his more conservative works, Casa Calvet was designed as both a private residence and business premises for textile manufacturer Pere Màrtir, and in 1900 it was awarded the prize of the best building of the year by the Barcelona City Council.
Image by Guillem Medina courtesy of GFDL
Casa Batlló (1904 - 1906)
Image by Dennis Bunnik
Known locally as Casa dels ossos, or the House of Bones, Casa Batlló has an organic, skeletal quality to it. Much of the outside of the building is covered in colourful mosaic, and the arched roof has often been compared to the back of a dragon. Its truly unique façade makes it easy to see why it is considered one of his masterpieces.
Torre Bellesguard (1900-1909)Inspired by a medieval castle built for the King of Aragon on the same site in the 15th century, Torre Bellesguard uses a rectilinear style rarely seen in his other work.
Image by GerthMichael at German Wikipedia / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Casa Milà (1906 - 1912)
Often referred to as La Pedrera, or the stone quarry, Casa Milà has a rough-hewn look, similar to that of an open quarry. Gaudí, ignoring the rules of conventional style, caused controversy with his design, and both he and the building’s owner, Pere Milà, were subject to much ridicule from the people of Barcelona.
Image by Dennis Bunnik
Park Güell (1900 - 1914)
Image by Sung Shin
Covering more than 17 hectares of Barcelona, Park Güell is one of the biggest green spaces in the city. Never fully finished, the buildings you see across the grounds are just a fraction of what was meant to be built. Despite that, it is still one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist destinations, with many flocking to see the famous architecture, including the stunning mosaic bench overlooking the city, and the home where Gaudí lived from 1901 - 1925.
La Colònia Güell (1890-1914)
Located in the town of Santa Coloma de Cervelló, 23 kilometres south-west of Barcelona, La Colònia Güell was a pioneering, purpose-built industrial village. Again commissioned by Eusebi Güell, the village was built with many amenities to improve the workers’ quality of life. Gaudí was commissioned to design the church, however construction was halted part way through so the church was never fully completed.
Image by Ferran Pestaña / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
La Sagrada Familia (1882 - expected: 2026)
Image by Sung Shin
La Sagrada Familia is arguably Gaudí’s most famous work. A Roman Catholic Basilica, the construction originally began under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. After his resignation in 1883, Gaudí took over the reins, transforming the project completely and dedicating the remainder of his life to its construction. Sadly, when he passed in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. In fact, construction still continues to this day, with the hope it will be finished by 2026.