Happy Birthday Gaudi!
This week marked the 161st birthday of Antoni Gaudí, the architect responsible with putting Barcelona on the map and for making the city that we call home such a hub of creativity and design.
The man behind the creation of the Casa Batlló, La Pedrera and the (famously still unfinished) Sagrada Familia, Gaudí transformed Barcelona with his elaborate and unique designs, using colours and lines never seen before.
It’s virtually impossible to visit Barcelona without stumbling across at least one of his works – he designed more than you think!
In honour of the man known as ‘God’s Architect’, here are our Top 10 facts about the life and times of Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet.
- Antoni Gaudí was born in 1852 in Reus, Catalonia, to a boilermaker and a housewife.
- Young Gaudí suffered from poor health, including rheumatism. These health concerns and his Doctor’s hygienist theories contributed to Gaudí’s decision to adopt vegetarianism early in his life. His religious faith and strict vegetarianism led him to undertake several lengthy and severe fasts – which occasionally, led to life-threatening illness.
- Gaudí studied architecture at the Llotja School and the Barcelona Higher School of Architecture, graduating in 1878 – but his grades were average and he occasionally failed courses. When handing him his degree, the director of Barcelona Architecture School, said: “We have given this academic title either to a fool or a genius. Time will show.”
- Between 1875 and 1878, Gaudí completed his compulsory military service but his poor health kept him from having to face combat – and he was able to dedicate time to studies. Gaudi had to pay 37 pesetas for his uniform.
- One of Gaudí’s first projects was the lampposts he designed for the Plaça Reial in Barcelona. He gained wider recognition for his first important commission, the Casa Vicens, and subsequently received more significant proposals. At the Paris World’s Fair of 1878, Gaudí’s showcase impressed Catalan industrialist Eusebi Güell, who then commissioned some of Gaudí’s most outstanding work: the Güell wine cellars, the Güell pavilions, the Palau Güell, the Park Güell and the crypt of the church of the Colònia Güell.
- The city authorities continuously tried to stop Gaudi’s work as it exceeded city regulations. The only thing they actually ever assigned him to design was the street lights.
- Gaudí devoted his life entirely to his profession, remaining single. He is only known to have been attracted to one woman – but this was not reciprocated. Thereafter Gaudí took refuge in Catholicism, even living for a portion of time in the Sagrada Familia.
- The tale of Gaudí’s death is a sorry one: On 7 June 1926, Gaudí was taking his daily walk to church. En route, he was struck by a passing tram and lost consciousness. Assumed to be a beggar because of his lack of ID and shabby clothing, the unconscious Gaudí did not receive immediate aid, and eventually was transported to hospital by the police. By the time that it was realised who he was, Gaudí’s condition had deteriorated too severely and he died on 10 June 1926 at the age of 73.
- His works are so spectacular that between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
- When objections were raised as to the extended completion date of the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi said: “Don’t worry, my client isn’t in a hurry.”