By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
Architects – the people who plan, design, and manage the construction of buildings – are usually not considered artistic celebrities. However, if there’s one name that’s left a lasting impression, it’s the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. This very unique man created brilliant works of construction “art” in Spain that still dazzle the eyes of eager tourists to this very day. If there’s one word to describe Gaudi’s masterpieces, it’s the similar sounding English word “gaudy” – which means very showy and over the top!
Gaudi was born in Spain in 1852 and studied architecture at the Escola Tecnica Superior d’Arquitectura in Barcelona, Spain. Although he didn’t do very well in school, by 1878 he officially became an architect, working on small projects at first like lampposts for the Plaça Reial in Barcelona.
His bizarre creations soon began drawing attention for their expertly crafted looks, and at the Paris World’s Fair of 1878, Gaudi impressed the wealthy Eusebi Güell. It was Güell’s funding and guidance that led to some of Gaudi’s best known works, like Park Güell and the Palau Güell.
As far as his style, Gaudi enjoyed combining architecture, nature, and religion into his works, using a blend of stained glass, iron, wood, and ceramics (materials like clay, hardened by heat). His stylish buildings are so internationally adored, that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has listed seven of them as World Heritage Sites.
Probably the most famous construction by Gaudi is the Sagrada Familia, a complex church in Barcelona that has been worked on for over 100 years. Nine architects total have managed the Sagrada Familia’s development, and even though Gaudi’s detailed plans were destroyed ten years after his death in 1926, the work has continued. Now, at long last, the architects responsible for its completion announced that it should be finished by 2026! The central tower will stand 566 feet above the ground, making the church the tallest in the world.