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 Essential Architecture-  Barcelona

Colonia Guell


Antoni Gaudi


near Barcelona


1898 , 1908 to 1915


Art Nouveau 


brick and stone


Gaudi began this ambitious project near Barcelona in 1898 but only the crypt was finished between 1908 and 1916. Nevertheless, this is one of the architect's most studied and admired works and a precedent for many of the solutions used in the church of the Sagrada Familia. The great expressive strength of the crypt is the result of a series of innovative features in the structure along with the audacious use of constructive elements, years ahead of its use in modern avant-garde architecture - astonishing ceramics, stained glass and remarkable wood and iron benches designed by Gaudi.

Church of Colònia Güell

The Church of Colònia Güell, Antoni Gaudí's great unfinished work, was built as a place of worship for the people of the manufactured suburb of Barcelona, Spain. Colonia Güell was the brainchild of Count Eusebio de Güell. However with Güell losing profits from his business, the money ran out and only the crypt was completed.

Gaudí's design
The technique Gaudí used to design the church was to hang little bags of birdshot from chains. This would give even weight distribution and show him the shapes and angles his pillars would need to be. Gravity would pull these bags downwards and stretch these chains to form a model structure. By using a mirror placed under the model Gaudí could then see the model as it should look. His model for the crypt is in the Museum under the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. The model looks dated; however, this would allow Gaudí to perform designs only computers could do today. It put him a good 75 years ahead of the designs of the time.

Recent history
In 2000, local architects set about repairing the crypt. This took away aspects of the unfinished nature of the buildings. However it did present a more tourist-friendly structure, and now visitors can stand on the roof, what would have been the church floor.