Thursday, October 16, 2014

Park Guell - Barcelona

It is April in Barcelona and beautiful. The trip to Antonio Gaudi's Park Guell today left dazzling impressions. Gaudi, who called himself "God's Architect", did not leave a single surface of his sinuous creations unadorned. His collaborations with iron workers, carpenters, masons, sculptors, and ceramicists make his lively creations endlessly varied.

The artistically virtuosic Gaudi's enchantingly realized visions are also engineering marvels. At his Park Guell, there is a path that leads to a magnificent mesa, bounded on its perimeter by rounded ceramic covered benches that coil like a snake or a sea serpent. The area  attracts very large crowds who congregate  there, socialize, and rest on the benches.

The Park is high above the City, so I thought the visitor area was carved into the hillside itself. Instead, the entire visitor area is a raised platform supported by grand columns. The underside of the structure is articulated into many domes that distribute the weight of the structure and its throngs of people evenly onto massive supporting columns. The underside is decorated like an undersea vault.

Downhill from the columns is the head of the snake or lizard whose coils are represented by the seat backs of the benches above. 

Crenelated walls surround the area like fanciful castle battlements or like the spine of a dragon

Beyond the lizard head are two storybook houses adorned with spectacular cake frosting- like tile work. The lower windows (see the first picture above) are sheathed in magnificent curved cast iron coverings that lead the eye upward. The walls themselves are filled with mosaic splendor, from Moorish designs to random shard patterns.

I am a Gaudi enthusiast. His early Twentieth Century organically inspired creations are not intended to fulfill what our time would deem to be "functional". Rather they are intended to feed the boundless imagination of those fortunate enough to visit, so that we may all revel in what is inspiring and comforting and delightful about being alive. Isn't that functional?