As we continue our discovery of Catalan Modernisme in Barcelona we began our homage to Gaudi in earnest when we visited his work at Colonia Guell. Not to be confused with Parc Guell, the “colony” was an unusual venture into social engineering and urban planning; again funded by Gaudi’s benefactor and friend Eusebi Güell. Colonia Guell is in many ways the blue collar polar opposite to the planned community that was to be Parc Guell, the latter being in the new sector of Barcelona and targeted for the very affluent.
The Colony is located outside of Barcelona and reached by train and, unlike much of Gaudi’s work, it is not unduly cluttered with tourists like ourselves. Quite the contrary, for on arriving at the Colony we found ourselves in a ghost town. When we arrived at the station we were 2 of only 4 passengers who had come to the colony. Therefore, together we 4 followed the blue track that took us past the eerily quiet factory, through a street of quiet houses and on to the Crypt and Church which are the Gaudi highlights of this small ghost town. The detailing on the exterior of the crypt reminds me of a reptile and so similar to our own set of Iguana door pulls. See if you agree:
The colony was begun in 1890 at what would have been the peak of the industrial revolution that began in England. Guell was an industrialist; therefore, at the Colony his first building was not surprisingly the cotton textile mill and supporting buildings. The worker houses and the manager’s house together with a school house followed on the heels of the factory. Finally, the church which was both the spiritual and visual center of the town. The Colony showcases Gaudi’s work and also the architecture of Joan Rubió, a disciple of Gaudi and whose CaL’Espinal is an interesting modernist house so named for the factory manager Mr. Espinal who lived there.
The Crypt of the church is an unusual and somewhat bizarre architectural feat and it is where Gaudi developed a lot of his engineering techniques that were later used in his masterpiece, Sagrada Familia.
As Wikipedia so puts it
The technique Gaudí used to design the church was to hang little bags of birdshot from strings. Gravity would pull these bags downwards, giving even weight distribution and stretching the strings to form a model structure, thus showing him the shapes and angles his pillars would need to be.
By photographing the model, then inverting the photograph, Gaudí could then see the model as it should look. A replica of his model for the crypt is in the Museum under the Sagrada Família in Barcelona.
This place was really spooky and also very sad. You felt as if the lives of these workers were trapped inside the “majesty” of someone’s grand plan.
While the architecture was interesting we were pleased to return to Barcelona and the hustle and bustle of life.
To view other pieces in our collection of architectural hardware, visit our site at www.martinpierce.com.