It’s day four of our look at Barcelona’s most impressive architectural landmark, Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia. We’ve seen the basilica from the frontwe’ve examined the construction and attempts at destruction of the famous church, and yesterday, we looked at the controversy over continuing Gaudi’s work, and of injecting other artists’ vision into so distinctive a building.
Today we’ll look at the role that nature plays in the design of the building. Gaudi’s architectural work can best be described as a gothic naturalism, that is to say, a complex translation of nature’s forms into the design of buildings and parks. Turtles, seashells, fruit, trees, and other natural forms are went into the inspiration for Gaudi’s work, and it can be seen everywhere in his buildings.
Above is an image of one of the spire tops at La Sagrada Familia, during the phase of the construction about five years ago. Many of the spires have similar fruit motifs, and resemble grapes, apples, or oranges piled on one another as if at a supermarket. There are turtles supporting the bases of columns, stairs that resemble ammonite mollusksand the ceiling of the main chamber of the church gives visitors the impression that they are standing beneath the canopy of a majestic forest, with light pouring in from small holes all over (more on lighting at La Sagrada Familia tomorrow).
But the Gaudi’s great church isn’t the only construction where his love of naturalistic forms can be seen. There are the undulating corners and stem-like guardrail work of his Casa Milà, an apartment building for the wealthy and lucky that is known colloquially as “La Pedrera” (meaning “the quarry). In a case of inspiration being paid forward, the chimneys on top of the Casa Milà are said to have inspired George Lucas’ stormtroopers on a visit the director took to Barcelona in the 1970s. And Gaudi’s work of him in the Parc Guell resembles evokes waves and psychedelic lizards.
Everywhere you go in Barcelona, Antoni Gaudi has left his mark. And everywhere you look in Gaudi’s work, nature has left her mark.
To submit photos for the Daily Travel Flashback series, you can contact me via twitter. Please include your email address.