Architect I admire: Antoni Gaudí
One building dominates the Barcelona skyline: The Sagrada Família. It is so enormous in stature that it’s still under construction more than 100 years after work began.
This giant church, which will eventually reach 560 feet in height, was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí, whose influences can be found all around the beautiful Catalan city.
Gaudí first rose to prominence after showing his very early work at the World’s Fair in 1878. Through this, he was commissioned to work on what are, still to this day, some of the city’s most fascinating tourist attractions, including Palau Güell and Park Güell.
Walking around Park Güell is a truly mind-bending experience and is a great showcase of his distinctive approach to architecture. I recommend it to anyone visiting Barcelona.
He was then invited to work on the Sagrada Família, which was yet to begin construction. He completely overhauled the design, reimagining it in his own unique style. The church is unmistakably his, designed in his naturalistic style. That is to say, curves and unpredictable angles rather than straight lines – just as you find in nature.
Following this, Gaudí began to experiment further and pioneered the equilibrated style – buildings which stand without internal support. He used tilted columns and lightweight materials to achieve this, and it can be seen in full effect at the Casa Batlló and the Casa Milà – two more of the city’s iconic buildings.
Later in life, Gaudí dedicated himself to his work on the epic church. He died in 1926 at the age of 73. The building was attacked and the original plans destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, but work has continued. Today’s architects follow his designs faithfully and hope to complete the building in 2026, 100 years after his death.
Gaudí was one of a kind. He was never afraid to play with form, and enjoyed employing both colour and texture to its full effect. The results are as bizarre as they are inspiring.
A visit to Barcelona is all the more rewarding for the many buildings he designed and influenced.