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Antoni Gaudí was born in the province of Tarragona in the southern part of Catalonia on 25 June 1852.  Gaudí was an architecture student at the Escola Tècnica Superior d'Arquitectura in Barcelona (1873 – 1877). When he was awarded the title of architect in 1878, Elies Rogent declared, "Qui sap si hem donat el diploma a un boig o a un geni: el temps ens ho dirà" ("Who knows if we have given this diploma to a nut or to a genius. Time will tell.")
The newly-named architect immediately began to plan and design and would remain affiliated with the school his entire life. From the very beginning his designs were different from those of his contemporaries. Gaudi's work was greatly influenced by forms of nature and this is reflected by the use of curved construction stones, twisted iron sculptures, and organic-like forms which are traits of Gaudi's Barcelona architecture. Gaudi adorned many of his buildings with coloured tiles arranged in mosaic patterns. This added another important dimension to his buildings which is so often overlooked by architects - the use of colour. The combination of original design, interesting shaped stonework, and vibrant colours in Gaudi's work give the viewer a truly breathtaking visual experience.

Early works

  • 1878–1879: Lampposts for the Plaça Reial at Barcelona;
  • 1878: Showcase for glove manufacturer Comella. Via this work, used at the World's Fair in Paris, Eusebi Güell came to know the architect.
  • 1878–1882: Several designs for the Obrera Mataronense at Mataró. Only a very small part of these plans was built, but it shows Gaudí's first use of parabolic arches, here in a wooden structure.
  • 1883–1885: Casa Vicens;
  • 1883–1885: Villa "El Capricho" at Comillas (Santander);
  • 1884: Finca Güell: Entrance pavilion and stables for the palace at Pedralbes (first completed building for Eusebi Güell);
  • 1884–1891: Completion of the crypt of the Sagrada Família (the crypt had been started by the architect Francisco del Villar in 1882, who had to abandon the project in 1883);
  • 1885–1889: Palau Güell;
  • 1887–1893: Episcopal palace at Astorga;
Later works

It is widely acknowledged that Gaudi is a part of Barcelona. His first works were designed in the style of gothic architecture and traditional Catalan architectural modes, but he soon developed his own distinct sculptural style. French architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, who promoted an evolved form of gothic architecture, proved a major influence on Gaudí. But the student surpassed the master architect and contrived highly original designs – irregular and fantastically intricate. Some of his greatest works, most notably La Sagrada Família, have an almost hallucinatory power.
Gaudí was a devout Catholic, to the point that in his later years he abandoned secular work and devoted his life to Catholicism and his Sagrada Família. He designed it to have 18 towers, 12 for the 12 apostles, 4 for the 4 evangelists, one for Virgin Maria and one for Jesus. He became reluctant to talk with reporters and solely concentrated on his masterpiece, La Sagrada Família . He spent the last few years of his life living in the crypt of the "Sagrada Familia".
On 7 June 1926 Gaudí was run over by a tram. Because of his ragged attire and empty pockets, many cab drivers refused to pick him up for fear that he would be unable to pay the fare. He was eventually taken to a paupers' hospital in Barcelona. Nobody recognized the injured artist until his friends found him the next day. When they tried to move him into a nicer hospital, Gaudí refused. He died three days later on 10 June 1926, at age 73, half of Barcelona mourning his death. He was buried in the midst of La Sagrada Família.
Although Gaudí was constantly changing his mind and recreating his blueprints, the only existing copy of his last recorded blue prints was destroyed by the anarchists in 1938 during the Spanish Civil War. This has made it very difficult for his workers to complete the cathedral in the fashion Gaudí most likely would have wished.

As of 2007, completion of the Sagrada Familía is planned for 2026, to commemorate the anniversary of his death. However, this may prove wildly optimistic if the worst fears of many eminent engineers and architects are realized, pointing out the structural dangers posed by a tunnel for a high-speed railway which would run within a short distance of the church’s foundations.
Gaudí, throughout his life, studied nature's angles and curves and incorporated them into his designs and mosaics. Instead of relying on geometric shapes, he mimicked the way men stand upright. The hyperboloids and paraboloids he borrowed from nature were easily reinforced by steel rods and allowed his designs to resemble elements from the environment.
Gaudí's was first only supported by the rich industrialist Eusebi Güell. His fellow citizens referred to the Casa Milà as La Pedrera ("the quarry"), and George Orwell, who stayed in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, admittedly loathed his work.

Later works
  • Casa Vicens (1884–1885)
  • Palau Güell (1885–1889)
  • College of the Teresianas (1888–1890)
  • Crypt of the Church of Colònia Güell (1898–1916)
  • Casa Calvet (1899–1904)
  • Casa Batlló (1905–1907)
  • Casa Milà (La Pedrera) (1905–1907)
  • Park Güell (1900–1914)
  • Sagrada Família Nativity façade and Crypt of the Sagrada Família church (1884 until his death in 1926, although still under construction as of 2009).

Web Casa Batllo: www.casabatllo.es
Web Sagrada Familia:www.sagradafamilia.cat
Web Casa Mila:www.obrasocial.caixacatalunya.es

Copyright 2009 Grupo Imago Grupo Imago

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