Monday, 3 July 2017

La arquitectura de Barcelona (does this really need translating?)

Aside from being able to progress my Spanish, I chose Barcelona based on its wealth of architectural history. One truly needs a lifetime to be able to do an in-depth investigation of all the architecture there is to see here, from Roman ruins to modern, sculptural structures. 

An influential Catalan architect here in Barcelona (and world-wide) was Josep Lluis Sert. He was active in Modernism, and had collaborated with major figures such as Le Corbusier.  I was fortunate enough to attend guided tours to two of his buildings. The first was Casa Bloc, a high-density apartment block that provided ingenious solutions to creating a sense of place and community within the seemingly simple concept of residence. The second was the Pavilion of the Spanish Republic which was featured in the 1937 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne. Here he collaborated with artists such as Joan Miro, Alexander Calder, and Pablo Picasso; in fact, one of Picasso's most famous works --the Guernica-- was given commissioned for and given central focus in the Pavilion. Unfortunately, my camera along with all the photos of Sert's work were lost. 

I was also able to visit the Barcelona Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona. It is one of the most elegant structures I have ever been in (which is a contrasting opinion to a few of my instructors from Canada). It does an incredible job of dividing space with planes in a way that maintains open transitions and airflow. It is beautiful in its materiality as well, using consistent proportions and exhibiting seamless joining. While walking through it, I experienced serenity and quiet, both which are difficult to achieve in bustling Barcelona.

Caught a picture of Kwinten the
KPU Eagle admiring the lovely Dawn.

Arguably Barcelona's most famous architect --Antoni Gaudi-- is the one that stole my heart. Of course all of his designs --Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, the crypt of Colonia Guell, Parque Guell, Palau Guell, among many more-- are all magnificent, but undoubtedly the Sagrada Familia is a cut above the rest. I had heard from instructors and older students that the experience of walking in the Sagrada Familia was met with tears but I did not think it would happen to me, and well --it did. Walking in, my chest to swelled with anticipation until it just broke and I was left breathless. It is peculiar, powerful, and beautiful. Gaudi was primarily inspired by nature, and the Sagrada Familia exhibits this on a macro and micro scale. From the distribution of the flutes on each column to the overall feeling of walking beneath a canopy of trees, every geometry and gesture can be explained by nature. I have never, and don't think I ever will again, encounter such an incredible church. 

 This church, however, is still unfinished. Gaudi was killed by a tramcar outside the Sagrada Familia during construction. I can only lament that we did not get to see the architectural wonders this master would have created if he even had just an extra 20 years. The Sagrada Familia is projected to be completed in 2026, exactly 100 years after Antoni Gaudi's death. So, in 2026 you will find me in Barcelona on the stoop of the Sagrada Familia. 

#Elisava #KPUInternational #KPUStudyAbroad #KPU #architecture #interiordesign #Barcelona
#MiesvanderRohe #AntoniGaudi #JosepLluisSert

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