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Posts from the ‘Architecture’ Category

Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlo and Mila


We set off to see three of Gaudi’s buildings on a Monday not expecting so many people to be there because, well, it was Monday. As soon as we got to Casa Batlo however, there was already a line to get in. The same situation greeted us at Casa Mila. We decided not to linger very long here, only admiring the buildings from the outside. The buildings were definitely odd and whimsy and cool all at the same time. And it certainly makes you wonder, from a builder’s point of view, how in the world did they frame that?!

Seeing Casa Batlo and Mila took me right back to my history class in college. It was unfortunate that back then, our textbooks only had hand renderings of these buildings, and it never really was an accurate representation of the real thing. You almost have to see it in person to get a sense of the scale and the sinuous forms and the organic quality of it all. We tried to capture as much of that in our photos but as always, it never seems to do them any justice (and you can only convey so much with a point-and-shoot!). As amazing as these buildings were, and as much as I would have loved to see them from the inside, the hordes of people were simply a buzz killer. So we peeled out and headed for the bigger fish–the Sagrada Familia.

There were ten times as many people here. Eek! To think that it wasn’t even tourist season yet. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have cared so much. But ten years ago I still had a high tolerance for crowds.

Anyway, Sagrada Familia was amazing. Period. This church is one of Gaudi’s masterpieces and is still under construction. I believe it’s been under construction since 1882. The interior of the church is nowhere near finished, and there were scaffolding everywhere. What a massive project this is.

a sculpture of Gaudi's head

Despite our mutual aversion to crowds, B and I decided to suck it up and check out the interior. We went through the museum where Gaudi’s plaster models were on display as well as drawings and early renderings that his friend and partner did for the massive sculptures that went on the exterior facade. To me these sculptures were one of a kind. I loved the angular forms of the figures he created. Quite a stark contrast to Gaudi’s curvilinear forms.

After the museum we lined up to take the elevator up to the spires, took in the panoramic views of the city below, and made our way back down one of the towers via a spiral stair that looked like a nautilus shell. It was the coolest thing. A little scary and claustrophobic in there, but cool.

I wonder what Gaudi was like as a person and as an architect. Judging from his works, he must have been really eccentric! And I thought I was weird.

Casa Batlo.

Casa Mila.

Sagrada Familia.

massive 1:10 scale plaster models

the model workshop

one of the many drawings by Josep Subirachs on display at the museum.

the nautilus staircase

The German Pavilion, Parc de Montjuic

Our visit to Parc de Montjuic literally took up an entire day. We had a little kid’s version of a tourist map with buildings that looked completely out of scale. This made it virtually impossible to tell just how big this site really is. Until you actually get there.

Parc de Montjuic or simply Montjuic Hill was the site that hosted the International Exposition back in 1929. Some of the important buildings that are still there to this day are the Palau Nacional, the Olympic Stadium, the Spanish Village, the Font Magica fountains, and a grand staircase leading up to the Palau Nacional. Also on this site are botanical gardens, and a huge castle that sits on top of the hill offering the best panoramic views of the city.

The German Pavilion designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is located at the foot of Montjuic Hill.  It was designed particularly for the German section of the exhibition. This is where B and I got held up for quite a while, snapping photos of every angle and sketching alongside a bunch of students (nerds!). The pavilion was intended to be a temporary structure, and was torn down after the Exposition in the early 1930s. Sometime in the 1980s a group of Spanish architects decided to reconstruct the pavilion based from the original plans and photos, and now it sits proud and permanent on the site with a route leading up to the Spanish Village. This building is quite a significant piece of early modern architecture (I’m sure all you architecture nerds already know that!).



cruciform steel columns


because the marble is so shiny, you can barely tell where it ends


travertine walls, bench and plinth

The roof plates supported by the chrome-clad, cruciform columns gives the impression of a hovering roof.

sculpture by Georg Kolbe

the juxtaposition of materials acting as spatial dividers: glass, stone, marble and gold onyx


transparent glass brings the outside in.

white barcelona chairs

golden onyx

verde antico marble

the pavilion serenely resting on its travertine plinth blends well with the site

me acting silly.

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