Park Guell – a Reflection of Gaudi’s Vision

Panoramic view of the entrance to the Park Güell. Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Panoramic view of the entrance to the Park Güell. Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Park Güell in Barcelona is probably the most original and imaginative park that has ever been built. Besides being part of the city’s top tourist attractions, Park Guell is also one of the defining works of the great Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi, who also designed the famous church Sagrada Familia.

The park’s name comes from the land’s owner, Count Eusebi Guell who was a “real estate developer”, in the early 20th century, and who wanted to build a luxurious and exclusive residential neighborhood, surrounded by a high wall high and guarded gates, on a 15-hectares a rocky hill with little vegetation. Count Guell found his source of inspiration in the English garden city movement, which was very popular back then.

Ceiling Mosaic in the Hypostyle Room, Park Güell, Barcelona

Ceiling Mosaic in the Hypostyle Room, Park Güell, Barcelona

So, he hired Gaudi. And the great artist designed a well-thought out park, with separate paths for cars and people, with public places and a number of 60 lots for private houses. Gaudi built, arranged and decorated all the public spaces in the park, but the building project was not successful. In the end, only two houses were built and neither was designed by Gaudi. Count Guell moved and lived in one of the two houses.

Colonnaded pathway where the road projects out from the hillside, with the vaulting forming a retaining wall which curves over to support the road, and transmits the load onto sloping columns.

Colonnaded pathway where the road projects out from the hillside, with the vaulting forming a retaining wall which curves over to support the road, and transmits the load onto sloping columns.

Of course, the other house was a show house. Since nobody shown interest for it, Count Guell suggested that Gaudi should buy it. The artist used all his savings to buy the fancy house, built by Francesc Berenguer, in 1904. So, Gaudi and his family lived at Park Guell until 1926, when the artist died. The house was turned into a museum, in 1963, before becoming a historical artistic monument of national interest, in 1969.

Park Guell, which was designed between 1900 and 1914, is a reflection of the great Gaudi’s vision about architecture. According to him, architecture should give the impression that it is an organic part of nature. So, during the time Gaudi worked at the park, he used along his experience as a landscape architect, his botanical knowledge. And the result is a park with rich vegetation and winding alleys, with stony viaducts inspired by nature and other constructions with wavy shapes, covered with glazed finely but unevenly chopped ceramics, embedded in a mass of cement. Through this technique, called trencadis, Gaudi crated delicate and sophisticated ornaments.

Third fountain at the entrance with the dragon

Third fountain at the entrance with the dragon

The unique shape of the serpentine bench enables the people sitting on it to converse privately, although the square is large. The bench is tiled and in order to dry up quickly after it rains, and to stop people from sitting in the wet part of the bench, small bumps were installed by Gaudí.

The unique shape of the serpentine bench enables the people sitting on it to converse privately, although the square is large. The bench is tiled and in order to dry up quickly after it rains, and to stop people from sitting in the wet part of the bench, small bumps were installed by Gaudí.

Bird nests built by Gaudí in the terrace walls. The walls imitate the trees planted on them.

Bird nests built by Gaudí in the terrace walls. The walls imitate the trees planted on them.

Viaduct

Viaduct

Park Guell was Gaudi’s second park, as in his youth, the artist planned the first public park of Barcelona, called Parc de la Ciutadella.

Submission by Luka Lisjak. Thank you!

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