Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gaudi's Sand Bag Models
by Tito Ballesteros

The image and its vertically flipped counterpart showing how Gaudi used the weight of small sand bags to help shape the columns and arches of La Sagrada Familia

Original image by Julia Meyer

Antonio Gaudi: a well-known name if you study architecture or if you just love art.
Born of Catalan origin in Spain during the mid 1800s, Gaudi was an architectural visionary whose buildings were more than plain cubes. These structures were inspired by the architectures of nature, following function with form, allowing for both aesthetic beauty and sound construction.

An architectural renegade, Gaudi took this inspiration and mimicked its shapes and curves, developing a different way to model his buildings. He would hang strings from the celing, tying small sandbags to them, and tying the strings to each other, creating the stronger columns and letting gravity make the arch shapes. This creates a solid structure, and one that is dramatic and breathtaking.

The wide openings at the bottom of the structure gradually narrow as your eyes move upward, drawing an "ah" from your mouth. The shapes, the colors, the use of natural materials and the ironwork all work together to give us a view that is calm and inspiring, both inside and out.

Nowadays, the purpose of a building is to show wealth and power. But where are the buildings that inspire us? if a healthy human brain gets stimulated by its surroundings, what kind of stimulation are we getting from modern buildings that we'd rather escape? Gaudi didn't intend for us to buy more, make more, consume more, be like this and not like that? The result of his careful planning and execution was not the escapism we see today. It was something far more sublime.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Are you saying that nowadays architecture conveys more of the austere than the sublime? Maybe this is where your association of buildings with wealth and power comes into play?

    In any case, thanks for the inspiration. Have an awesome week.

  3. I noticed a cool architectural documentary series by Alain de Botton, named The Perfect Home, based on his book, The Architecture of Happiness, and I will post the link to the film when I get a chance.

  4. The title sounds great!
    Thank you so much.
    Looks like we will be talking about the subject for a while.

  5. Hello! I'm an assistant producer from Infocus Asia, a Singapore based production company specialising in curent affairs and long-form factual entertainment for an international market.

    I'm working on a documentary about the Sagrada Familia right now and I'm wondering if you'll be kind enough to let us use your photos for the show?

    I can give you more information and answer any questions you may have.

    Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

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