Have you ever traveled to a place where your experience visiting showed you a completely new way to see and understand things?
Two summers ago, I traveled to Barcelona where I beheld the most beautiful buildings in the world built by architect and artist Antoni Gaudí. I have considered becoming an architect, but seeing these spectacular buildings made me think in new ways about how we can change the formula, bringing the natural world that I love together with human-made architecture.
The highlight of my trip was visiting three different architectural masterpieces by Gaudí. The first was Casa Batlló, which had a fantastic roof that looked like dragon scales. The second was La Pedrera, an apartment building which had an attic constructed out of catenary arches which gave the roof an undulating look to it. The third was Gaudí’s final masterpiece which is still under construction to this day, La Sagrada Familia. This building is an enormous cathedral that has beautiful soaring arches and stained-glass windows.
I was mesmerized by the way Gaudí incorporated living forms and nature into his buildings. Windows in his Casa Battló resemble turtle shells, and all of the door handles were made by taking a lump of clay and squeezing it to make an ergonomic hand grip. The Casa Battló’s nickname is “the house of bones” because its exterior resembles a mass of bones. In La Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s interior pillars resemble trees, supporting the roof like a canopy.
Gaudi hated simple flat roofs with a few wires protruding. He compared them to a bald head with one little hair pointed straight up! So, he made the tops of his buildings as far from straight as possible. His roofs are wonders to see. They are also some of the best places from which to admire the city of Barcelona. When I visited La Pedrera, a fierce thunderstorm was just about to hit, but I really wanted to get a look at the roof. When we emerged atop Gaudí’s masterpiece, I saw streets, rooftops, and cathedrals, butting up against the sea about to be engulfed by storm clouds and thunderbolts.
Gaudí’s artwork was his life. His work is still carried on, and the Sagrada Familia is slated to be finished in 2026, one hundred years after its original architect died. Gaudí didn’t change my mind about becoming an architect; he changed how I thought of architecture. Architecture can be a job, but more than that, it can be natural art.
Like with my experience in Barcelona, I encourage all of you to be open to the amazing experiences that travel brings to how you see things. For me it was Barcelona, but for you it could be a completely different place. You can find inspiration, wonder, and the pleasure of learning something new.
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