Gaudi: Fool or Genius

Posted in: Creativity | (Français) le27 July 2012

I had the chance to visit Barcelona this summer. What a wonderful city! The tapas, the sangria, the flamenco and of course Gaudi. I could not resist visiting some of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces like La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, Casa Batllo and Parc Guell.


Though Gaudi is considered today to be a creative genius, in the 1950s his architectural style was highly criticized. His building facades were once described as “tortures of imagination” with “bulbous obscenities.”  His buildings defy traditional architecture of his times by not using straight lines and by having irregular floor plans, waves-like undulating balconies, cliff-like rock facades and surrealistic colorful chimneys.


On his graduation as a young architect, his school director said: “I don’t know whether we are graduating a genius or a fool.” Reality is that during his lifetime he was considered both. He started his career being considered a fool by some of his peers, until they realized much later his work was pure genius.


Gaudi’s architecture is unmistakably beautiful. His buildings resemble giant sculptures combining both beauty and functionality.  His structures are not only aesthetically beautiful, but have elaborate fenestration and ventilation features that no other architect of his time could achieve.


Gaudi’s inspiration came from nature. In his own words he would say: “Don’t copy me, copy nature.” He spent time studying nature and biological structures he could replicate in his buildings. For instance, the amazing wooden staircase of the Casa Batllo was inspired from bone cartilage and the towering columns supporting La Sagrada Familia decorative ceiling was inspired from tree trunks and canopy.


For Gaudi, the most elaborate, perfect and harmonious structures in the world have been created by nature. He thought if he could replicate some of nature’s structural elements, he would create amazing architecture. His mind would draw analogies between nature and architecture. Every time he had to build a new structure, he would carefully study how similar shapes and forms have been created by nature. This is what I call analogical thinking.

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