Antoni Gaudi i Cornet’s (1852 to 1926) unique style can easily be identified by his buildings in the city of Barcelona and at the Park Guell on the outskirts. It is difficult to unpick fully the varied influences that Gaudi drew upon for his creations. However, this post is intended as a brief look at a few of the architectural elements at Park Guell.
Gaudi was living in a place and at a time where the energy of cultural rebirth was in the air. From the late 1880s Catalonia was asserting its own unique identity, having lost its independence for 4 centuries. This renaissance was a cultural and political movement known as Modernisme, of which Art Nouveau was a key factor.
Gaudi had initially absorbed the Gothic Revival before turning his attention to the rising Art Nouveau movement of Europe. As a student he had read Ruskin. He also had read the 2nd volume of Viollet le Duc’s Entretiens sur l’architecture – a key influence on European Art Nouveau.
Taking inspiration from the idea of the English-garden suburb combined with the 18th-C landscaped park, Park Guell was established to become a luxury housing development. The project’s founder was Count Eusebi Guell. His park was sited away and above the city with clean air and close to nature. Unfortunately, at the time the scheme didn’t inspire buyers to come forward and it was halted. I expect it would be a very different prospect today, given the high number of visitors.
Gaudi lived at Park Guell before moving into the workshop of the Sagrada Familia in his final years. At the Park it seems he was exploring how nature, function and form come together.
What struck me was the way Gaudi seemed to love playing with ideas from architectural form, engineering, arts and crafts and nature.
Stevens Curl, James & Susan Wilson, The Oxford Dictionary of Architecture, 3rd Ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), p. 152
Watkin, David, A History of Western Architecture, 6th Ed. (London: Lawrence King Publishing, 2015), pp. 556-564