Research journal entry 5- GAUDI INFLUENCE

I haven’t posted anything for the past few days due to a quick trip to BARCELONA- home of colour, bohemia and (of course) Gaudi.

Following on from my research into fabric formed concrete, Gaudi was an architect that this technology would have probably proved beneficial.

Contrary to how it may seem by his current popularity, the man himself was a quiet introvert who did not flaunt himself or his wealth to the crowds. With an extensive imagination, sometimes rearing into superfluousness, the architect was lucky in the sense that the economic climate and fashion was ripe for his vision.

The design model for the Sagrada Familia, created upside-down using weights- inspiration taken from a tree mirrored in water

The design model for the Sagrada Familia, created upside-down using weights- inspiration taken from a tree mirrored in water

His partiality towards sculpture as his primary design medium and attention to detail while within the building process encouraged the use of warped lines and curvature within the buildings, but also caused him problems with his patrons (due to mounting costs of already expensive projects) and builders, meaning that many of his works were unfinished.

A devout catholic, this connection to religion and the beauty of nature is seen in a lot of his work, accentuated by the rise of the modernista movement towards the middle of his career, which complimented his personal style. Organic forms are seen in the majority of his work, even in the earlier periods of neo-gothic and oriental architecture.

This fascination for raw delicate forms may have fuelled the use of old ceramics and glass in his works. Gaudi was the original recyclist, decorating many of his works with stained windows, made from disused glass, and broken ceramic mosaics, which influence a lot of features of Barcelona itself.

Other projects which show off the ornamental nature of his style  include the ironwork sculptures, disguised as lampposts, gateways and banisters, dotted around the city of Barcelona as well as within his architectural works, and the furniture pieces he designed to complement his interior spaces.

Looking at the work of Gaudi, mainly constructed fundamentally in stone, it is easy to see how the technology of today could have benefited his projects. Indeed, it may have been, in some part, the influence of his work which fuelled the interest in the creation of a technology that would stretch the capabilities of reinforced concrete to this level of fluidity and curvature. Looking at these two aspects, the technology of now, and the architect of the past, it makes you wonder what would have formed if the two had come together.

How can I use these works as an influence for my building? 

Due to the economic climate of today, the chopping and changing nature of Gaudi’s design process which amounted to the creation of his spectacular works would be completely unsuitable. My building would have to be designed in its entirety if it were to be built.

Another problem with his work in todays world is the ornamental factor, although popular as a building from the past may not be seen in the same light if designed today. In my opinion some of his use of colour, especially that on the outside of the Sagrada Familia is verging on ugly and kitsch, due to the fact that it is used in only a few areas and does not support the continuity of the rest of the building.

This, however, is a merely aesthetic view.

The recycled nature of some of Gaudi’s materials is somewhat inspiring. In a time where recycling was not an activity that was even considered, it is a beautiful touch on the building and no doubt minimised some of the amounting costs of his projects. In this sense I could use his approach to materials in my building, trying to find new uses for those which are difficult to recycle.

The raw curvature of many of Gaudi’s works also already has something in common with my building and perhaps can help in my design of certain aspects. An example of this is the ceiling in his Casa Batilo, which is said to have taken inspiration from the spiral within a shell, however, it also looks like the spiral created by fabric when twisted. This is also an effect that can be created with fabric formed concrete.

Another aspect which works with my project is the labyrinthial nature of Gaudi’s corridors and stairways, which, in some cases, are not unlike those which are created when looking at a pile of fabric. Although more shell like, in his creation, with the use of fabric formed concrete, the labyrinth could be made to look as if made of textiles.

How does he do this? Is the maze-like feeling created from the curvature, the continual twists, or is it more to do with the secular quality of the archways?

More studies of the qualities of fabric need to be done. How can these qualities be captured? Even fabric formed concrete has its limits.


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