Saturday Art: Gaudi’s Habitat
Entering Guell Park from above.
A truly beautiful concept occurred to Antoni Gaudi. He originated a housing project. It now is Guell Park. If all of us could live in such an atmosphere, no doubt the world would be a much better place.
Admitted, I’ve had the privilege of working to build Habitats, and was actually able to put up homes for people in Chile. It’s something that we all could do, and would do well to contribute our talents to do. Gaudi envisioned his creation as a wonderful place that normal people could live in. As a housing development, it was not operable, so now it’s a park and anyone can visit without charge and enjoy.
The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, the idea of Count Eusebi Güell, whom the park was named after. It was inspired by the English garden city movement; hence the original English name Park (in the Catalan language spoken in Catalonia where Barcelona is located, the word for "Park" is "Parc", and the name of the place is "Parc Güell" in its original language). The site was a rocky hill with little vegetation and few trees, called Muntanya Pelada (Bare Mountain). It already included a large country house called Larrard House or Muntaner de Dalt House, and was next to a neighborhood of upper class houses called La Salut (The Health). The intention was to exploit the fresh air (well away from smoky factories) and beautiful views from the site, with sixty triangular lots being provided for luxury houses. Count Eusebi Güell added to the prestige of the development by moving in 1906 to live in Larrard House. Ultimately, only two houses were built, neither designed by Gaudí. One was intended to be a show house, but on being completed in 1904 was put up for sale, and as no buyers came forward, Gaudí, at Güell’s suggestion, bought it with his savings and moved in with his family and his father in 1906. This house, where Gaudi lived from 1906 to 1926, was built by Francesc Berenguer in 1904. It contains original works by Gaudi and several of his collaborators. It is now the Gaudi Museum (Casa Museu Gaudi) since 1963. In 1969 it was declared a historical artistic monument of national interest.
You should visit for yourself, and enjoy the mingling of incredible architecture with themes of nature. I came in from above, from the subway system stop and up the escalator, then up the hill – at the top of which I took the picture above – and down through the incredible fantasy there. Below you will see the amazing mozaic lizard that is one of Gaudi’s most beloved works.