Tag Archives: architecture

I Do Love Gaudi! My Second Barcelona Gaudi Adventure.

8 Oct

I returned to Barcelona with one main focus — to see the Gaudi sites I missed last time and to see the new house that opened to the public less than a year ago.

Although I had see CASA Batllo in my first trip, I had not seen Casa Milo up close. Since it was just a few blocks from our hotel, we walked there our first day. It did not disappoint, even though it was not colorful! And I do like color. I loved the terraces and curving forms.

I also got to see Casa Batllo in the evening, which is another wonderful view.

The next day we had hired a private tour guide to take us on a Gaudi tour. High on my list: Park Quell and the new Casa Vincens, a house that was privately owned until just a few years ago and opened as a museum in November 2017.

Added to our agenda was Gaudi’s dragon gate at the entrance to what was once the Quell estate, then became the King’s palace and is now a convention center.

This gate is Amazing!! The dragon can move but cannot fly away!

As for Park Quell, the park was donated to the city of Barcelona when Mr. Quell died around 1919.

The gardens, paths, bridges, and buildings are wonderful to explore. The outdoor theater, market and the two houses call out to be explored. The three bigger houses on the property were big designed by him. But the two at the main entrance are probably his design.

I also loved the iron fencing, with its swans and lily pads in my opinion, which is repeated at the Casa Vicens. Gaudi’s designs were fantastic, original and amazing.

Finally Casa Vicens with its spectacular ceilings and moorish smoking room was the end to my Gaudi adventure. I especially loved the walls in the bedrooms and the little balcony off the living room. And my sojourn in the torrent on the rooftop made me feel like the queen of Gaudi!

My love of Gaudi grows with each additional site I explore.

One last photo of a Parc Güell bridge that my husband took. I love this view.


Missing the Frank Gehry Museum, My Only Regret

2 Apr

Now that my trip is over, I must admit my one disappointment: not seeing Frank Gehry museum building in Panama City. 

Although I have never studied architecture, there are certain architects whose works intrigue me. I have written about Gaudi and Hundertwasser in a previous post (see below). 

But I also love the work of Canadian-born architect Frank Gehry. I just love his whimsical style just as I love the unusual designs of  Gaudi and Hundretwasser, who built structures before him. And although they worked in more natural materials, for me Geary’s modern  metal structures seem to meld into my love of slightly weird edifices. 

I think I also have an affinity to him as he was born one day after my mother’s birthday in February 1929 to an  immigrant Polish- Jewish mother, as was my mom.  

I love the Stata Center, the University building he designed for MIT in Boston. Walking around and inside and outside of this building just gave me joy. I loved the unusual angles.  

In Minneapolis viewing the museum from a bridge.

In Minneapolis we enjoyed time meandering through the Weisman Art Museum he designed near the University of Minnesota campus. When we walked away, I noticed a bridge which I immediately said had to be designed by Gehry as well.  I was right. My confirmation was a quick text to a young women I know who studied architecture at the university. 

Concert time

In Chicago I have enjoyed concerts at Millennium Park in the outdoor Jay Pritzker Pavillion theater that Gehry designed. The massive metal structure that surrounds the stage provides great acoustics and, for me, a welcoming embrace. It seems to reach out and say, “Pay attention!” I have meandered along the Millennium Bridge in the park. And I have yelled at teens trying to skate board along its lovely metal sides.

I have seen Geary’s famous fish sculpture in Barcelona, the city of Gaudi. This gives me joy I love that there are structures built by both done a century apart.  Although Gaudi’s famous church is still under construction. 

At the Museum of Pop Culture, the Gehry alien.

I visited the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle and loved the Science Fiction Museum inside. I, of course, love the alien inspired figure over the entrance to the science fiction section. I enjoyed walking along the outside of this unique structure, loving the different forms and bright reddish color center.  

So it is not a surprise that I had signed up for a tour of the Biomuseo in Panama City that Gehry designed. Unfortunately, this tour was cancelled due to lack of registrations. How frustrating!  People signed up to go shopping in Panama City, but not tour the museum. 

And no we could not go on our own. We had docked in Colon for a short stay. The only way to get there was by a ship offered tour. I would have loved to really see the building, not just photos. Also the topic focusing on the changes in Panama due to the Canal would have been fascinating. 

So I must admit,  my only regret of our South American/Panama Canal vacation was missing a trip to this museum. I guess I will have to go back. 

My Architectural Love Affair With Hundertwasser and Gaudi

6 Jul

In the summer of 1999, my husband and I took our children on a tour of Austria and Hungary, primarily to see these countries and to view the total eclipse of the sun that would be visible that summer. We were heading to Hervis, Hungary, for the best viewing.

Before the trip up to the mountains, we stayed for several days in Vienna. It was an informative trip as we went to the Jewish Museum, Judenplatz, other museums and visited the home of the white stallions. (See below for links to another blog about this trip.)

But along the way I was introduced to the work of Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the Austrian architect who was born in 1928, the same year as my father, and who had survived the Shoah with his Jewish mother by passing as Catholic, the religion of his father. In Vienna we saw the most unusual apartment building designed by him, The Hundretwasserhaus. This crazy looking building was multicolored, unusually shaped and had trees growing everywhere.


But the most wonderful part of our visit that year, was our accommodations at what my then 8-year-old son called the ‘Wacky Hotel.’ But whom others call Hundretwasser’s Rogner Bad Blumau, a hotel that includes thermal baths and pools. The hotel has no rhyme or reason that an adult can see. But it has sparks of imagination that enchant a child. I was enthralled.   I became a Hundertwasser lover. Even though I have no background in architecture.

Our stay there was delightful, from the curving paths to the unusual windows to the wonderful pools and colorful design. I bought books about Hundretwasser. I was intrigued by his desire to help nature and bring all things natural to his architecture. Yes, I think he went a little far at times, but I so enjoyed his work.

I was also intrigued by his personal history and his survival. Born Friedrick Stowasser, he changed his name after the war to focus on his desire for peace and harmony with nature. I think I was also aware of another connection, my maternal grandfather was also from a part of Austria. He had moved to the USA in the 1920s, but like Hundretwasser, my grandfather lost almost 100 members of his family during the Shoah. Hundretwasser’s mother lost many of her family members as well. Our connection was that both of our families had been decimated by the Shoah.

I would love to see all the buildings Hundretwasser designed, but I realize this would be impossible. However, there is a winery in California, The Quixote Winery that I have to see! I love how he uses the natural contours of the ground and a need to protect the environment in his designs. I would love to see this winery in person.

My profound interest in Hundertwasser’s works lead to my interest in another European architect, Antoni Gaudi, from Spain.   Although he died three years before Hundretwasser was born, I see his influence in the work of my Austrian artist. For Gaudi, his Catholic religion was an important part of his designs. Not so for Hundretwasser, even though he was baptized to survive. But the form of their buildings and their interest in natural design fit so well together.

The towers on their buildings, the use of stone and color, the curves and contours reflect each other. Although Gaudi used religion to influence his art, and Hundretwasser used nature.

Church of Sagrada Familia

So, of course, on our recent trip to Europe and Barcelona, I had to go to see some of Guadi’s designs. The amazing church, the Sagrada Familia, which has been in progress for over 120 years! Wow! What a creation! My husband envisioned termite hills reflected in the towers. Our tour guide was not too happy with that comparison. But it is true. The towers do look like termite hills to us!

Casa Batllo Casa Batllo

We toured the Casa Batllo. I loved it! The mushroom fireplace, the lovely curved doors and windows, the delightful stone and tile-encrusted façade all brought me some joy! The private garden in the back on part of the roof was enchanting.

Unfortunately we could not get tickets to Park Guell, so I guess I will have to go back to Barcelona one day to view this park and see how it compares to the Rogner Bad Blumau.

I find it so unusual that one man, born in the mid 1850s and dying in 1926, who based his architecture on his religious beliefs; and another man born in 1928, who died in 2000, and had to escape from religious persecution, both designed buildings with such unique and imaginative styles.

Although some believe the word gaudy comes from Antoine Gaudi’s name, it does not. My search of several dictionaries revealed that the word, gaudy, was first used in the 1500s to mean garish or flashy. Yes, it is somewhat like Gaudi’s buildings, but in this case his name was not the reason for the word, just a serendipitous event.

And although some might call Gaudi’s works gaudy, to me they are inspiration! To me, to be honest, neither the work of Gaudi nor the work of Hundretwasser should ever be considered gaudy, rather they should be seen as works of imagination! Just as the song about Figment in the Disney ride “Imagination” used to say, “One little spark of inspiration is at the heart of all creation!”

I believe their designs will be joy to many others for generations because they hold the spark of imagination. And so I will continue my architectural love affair with their buildings.

Update with a newest Gaudi visit: https://zicharonot.com/2018/10/08/i-do-love-gaudi-my-second-barcelona-gaudi-adventure/



My second Gaudí adventure: https://zicharonot.com/2018/10/08/i-do-love-gaudi-my-second-barcelona-gaudi-adventure/