Gaudi In The Details

I had always thought Antoni Gaudi’s buildings were…well gaudy.

My minimalist aesthetics were offended by all that ornamentation and I never really paid much attention to his work. But as soon as I stepped inside this iconic building in Barcelona, I knew I had been so mistaken. About Gaudi and about modernist architecture. One of the trio of modernist buildings on Passeig De Gracia comprising the “Manzana de la Discordia”, the Casa Batllo is radical, absurd, functional and exceptionally beautiful all at the same time!

Remodelled from an existing structure for the textile magnate Joseph Batllo between 1904-1906, this is one of Gaudi’s emblematic works. It served as a luxury apartment complex for the Batllo family who occupied the Noble floor with its large living spaces and private terrace up until the mid 50’s. It was deemed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005. Today – if you have the moolah – you could pretend you are a 19th century business tycoon for an evening, and celebrate a special occasion right on the ‘Noble’ floor of this very special building.

The compass and T Square are an architect’s tools of trade (even if CAD has rendered them virtually obsolete today) and Gaudi appears to have thrown them out the window, when he designed this house. From the Trencadis (broken ceramic mosaic) covered facade to the fairy tale interior, there is not a straight line or corner in sight.  For these shapes do not occur in nature and nature was his primary muse.

Art Deco and Art Nouveau intermingle with impunity here. Bizarre decorative elements proudly proclaim that he is no slave to popular sentiment. But somehow, amazingly, they all come together beautifully! Mainly because of his attention to proportion and detail and to the innovative use of shape, colour and light…techniques that have since been borrowed by many contemporary architects.

This is an architectural smile, an outpouring of the
composite pleasure of a man who was in full command
of his own very personal style.
~ Professor Juan Bassegoda Nonell

Nuff said. Check out these images and let me know what you think!

Professor Juan Bassegoda Nonell was the director of the Royal Gaudi Chair at the School of Architecture within the Polytechnical University of Catalonia

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

100 thoughts on “Gaudi In The Details

  1. Wonderful post, Madhu! That is certainly someplace I certainly have “the urge to wander” to 😛 Excellent analysis of the structural and historic aspects of the building…yes, I will add this to my “Places I Must Visit” list 🙂

  2. Wonderful photos, Madhu. I was also completely bowled over by his architecture when we visited Barcelona a few years ago. Is the Gaudi cathedral completed yet?

    1. We probably went before you, but I don’t think the Sagrada Familia is likely to be completed anytime soon 🙂 2026-2028 is the estimated completion date!

  3. Wow! These are stunning Madhu! Lovely architecture hon and you captured it so well! 🙂

  4. I’ve always been fascinated with Gaudi’s works. His imagination was exceptional, even for modern-day standard! Love all the details.

    1. Those modernist architects were all amazing! Montaner for example has some great buildings to his credit! Thank you for reading Bama!

  5. Gaudi’s building are not only unique, they actually have their own spirit. At least I felt them that way, when I was in Barcelona. Thanks for these photos and for the post! It reminded me one of my best joutneys so far.

    BTW, I love Barcelona!

  6. I didn’t know a lot about Gaudi when I went to Barcelona, but I ended up falling in love with his work.

    1. It is not for everyone though! Two of my close friends went all the way to Barcelona and passed up the opportunity to visit this place, because they did not like the exterior! You like it or you hate it I guess 🙂

  7. Gaudí was the main reason I went to Barcelona – I was not very fond of the city but the beauty and innovation of his creations made up for everything else! I find it absolutely amazing that he designed all those buildings long before the development of CAD and other computer software. Nowadays boring grids, straight lines and soulless glass walls seem to be the norm!

    1. it is truly amazing! I loved Montaner’s work as well especially the Palau Musica Catalana. Couldn’t catch a concert there unfortunately. Would love to return and do the entire modernist loop across the Catalan region!

  8. Haven’t been to Spain as yet, but I’ll get there. I really want to see this for myself! Great photos as always!! 😀

  9. I agree, sometimes you have to see something first hand to really appreciate it’s beauty. You captured it so well!

    Elisa

    1. Thank you again for another wonderful blog. The photos are wonderful, and the subject matter even more so. I’ve never been to Spain, nor Egypt or Peru, so your presentations are very welcome. I enjoy them very much. Thanks.

    2. @ Northern Narratives, Thank YOU for your feedback!
      @ Bumbas, delighted that you enjoy my blog! Thank you for taking the time to comment

  10. That is absolutely the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! I LOVE the windows! The outside architecture is something else! Thank you so much for sharing this!

      1. I don’t think so. I can actually hardly remember much since it was so long ago but I do remember how much I loved his architecture!

  11. I have mixed feelings on Mr. Gaudi’s work. I like certain elements of it, but then again, if I were chosing an architect to design a lush building for me, I doubt Mr. Gaudi would stand a chance. His stuff is a little too way out there for my liking. Nice post on your behalf though. Nice photos, too.

    1. I know a lot of people who feel that way! In fact I was surprised that no one said so thus far! Would I live in a place like that? Probably not. But i wouldn’t live in a Baroque palace or a Victorian manor either, because I do like my stark straight lines, however unnatural they may be. I would love to incorporate a lot of Gaudi’s interior elements into my home though! That staircase was to die for and those stained glass windows and the sinuous doors….I could live with them for sure 🙂 Thank you for your honest feedback Marcia! Appreciate it!

  12. While Gaudi’s building would certainly hold my attention, I don’t know if I can get past the gaudiness of it all. He definitely had imagination, a vision, but did he just do it all tongue in cheek I wonder?

    1. Possibly. I felt the same till I saw it first hand and changed my mind. I still think the exterior is a bit much 🙂 But the interiors are actually quite elegant! His other buildings – not including the Sagrada Familia and the awful Parc Guell – are not as over the top as this one.

  13. I agree with you, I wasn’t a fan of Gaudi until I went to visit his works in person! And I was surprised to see this post of yours because I am in the process of selecting photos for my upcoming posts — Spain! stay tuned! =D

  14. Wow, beautiful pictures. I absolutely love Gaudi’s architecture but haven’t had the chance to see them in person. My cousin is about to graduate with a master’s in Architecture so I’ve seen some pretty spectacular things through her. Your website and photography are beautiful.

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