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Published: February 16th 2021
16th February - Gaudi’s Park Güell
Gaudi planned and directed the construction of the park from 1900 to 1914 for Eusebi Güell as a residential park intended for sixty single family residences for the wealthy residents of Barcelona.
The reason why it is spelt Park and nit Parc is that the architect was inspired by the British garden city movement of the 19th century,
Gaudí’s plan was to create a modern housing estate far from the smog and chaos of the city down below. His plans called for houses with modern conveniences such as running water as well as facilities such as a market, a laundry room, a church and a public square.
The plan was unsuccessful and ultimately the project had to be abandoned. Work on the project terminated in 1914 and in 1926 the plot was officially opened as a public park.
The only consolation for Gaudi, was that he was able to buy one of these houses when they were put up for sale. He lived there with his family until he died in 1926.
In 1918 Güell died and his 8 sons wanted
to concentrate on their loom business so the project was abandoned and the park became the property of the city in 1923.
Gaudi let loose his imagination, For houses he drew on natural forms, he shaped nature into colonnades, archways and covered galleries with well-camouflaged artificial structures, like columns that simulate palm-tree trunks, rubble-surfaced arches that grow out of the ground & quilts of ceramic tiles.
One of the consequences of Gaudí’s commitment to the principles of natural creation is that there are no straight lines in his designs, instead he favoured slanted lines or organic curves which mimic the way objects such as trees, shells, plants and rocks are formed.
A good example is the undulating continuous bench, the back of which forms a balustrade, its entire surface encrusted with ceramic tile pieces of all colours, some randomly arranged, some in patterns.
I remember when we visited some years ago how crowded it was but today only locals were sitting on the stone bench which is unusually comfortable for a stone bench.
The bench is 110m long and is said to be the longest undulating bench
in the world.
Apparently Gaudi had a workman drop his pants and sit in soft plaster to record the correct anatomical curve – foreshadowing the science of ergonomics by half a century.
We had a good view point from the bench overlooking the entrance with its imposing Reception Tower and the Porters Lodge and in the distance the Mediterranean.
Walt Disney visited the park and took inspiration for creating gingerbread houses from these two structures.
The back side of the bench we saw gargoyles which acted as water outlets from the holes positioned along the bench to remove any residual water.
As we walked around with our guide we could hear the parakeets as they flew between the trees.
The column hall, a centrepiece of the park was the intended covered market with its 86 columns & domed roof.
Very cleverly these columns and the vault are built in such a way that the rain water filters down through the domes and passes down the centre of the column via pipes to allow the ecological watering of the gardens, as well as the
feeding of the fountains. In the ceiling of this room, circles of mosaics represent the four seasons and the lunar cycles.
The monumental staircase consists of several staircases and several fountains, the most famous of which is in the form of a salamander, a mosaic salamander now a symbol of the city.
At the lodge we saw the areas where the horses were kept and much to everyone’s amusement a urinal for the carriage drivers complete with large ball shaped structure to avoid splashes !
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