Who do you draw your inspiration from?

What truly inspires us?
For me it is the nature of God, with all its intricate details and graceful strength.

Who inspires you?

God is the chief cornerstone for my aspirations, but Antonio Gaudi’s beliefs are the mortar that solidifies my dreams.

His childhood teaches me that handicaps can bring us to our true strength. One of the most brilliant Spanish Architects, Antonio Gaudi, gathered his design from the study of nature. As a child Gaudi suffered from rheumatism, making him unable to attend much school. Most of his days were spent either helping his father as a copper smith or in the woods near his home. He considered Nature his teacher for many years.

This famous architect encourages me that even if I am not accepted in our mainstream educational system I can still suceed as the unique individual I am. As a young adult entering school full-time he struggled greatly with Rational Mechanics and Analytic Geometry. He was a below average student at best. He entered architectural school and failed one of his first exams. The teacher had asked Gaudi to design a cemetery gate, who in a typical Gaudí fashion, could not design the gate without placing himself in the situation. He started by drawing mourners, pale sky, cypress trees, etc. in order to better situate himself. The frustrated professor told him that is not the way to design and Gaudi responded that he knew no other way. Gaudi left the class and failed the course.

Fortunately, his struggles with school did not deviate him from his calling as one of the greatest architects Spain will ever boast. As an architect, he was very organic. His sense of design clearly originated from his surroundings and is ever-present in all his designs. Gaudí also knew that nature did not try to create works of art, bur rather forms that were functional and useful, and idea that would manifest throughout all of Gaudí’s designs. When asked what his favorite architectural textbook was, Gaudí pointed out the window saying that his favorite book on architecture was the tree outside. Gaudí adopted the principle of returning to the source to find inspiration in architecture. This, of course, can be interpreted in a number of ways. Gaudí did return to the source when finding inspiration for his architecture in the sense that he uses nature as his muse. The lines of mountains, shapes of clouds, and the support of trees are seen throughout his style. Nature, for Gaudí, is the original source of man. He does not interpret the return to the source as a primitivist quality, but instead sees it as an opportunity to return to what he considers the source of mankind, nature.

Two of my favorite quotes Antonio Gaudi is known for is:

“Because of this, originality consists in returning to the origin.”

and,

“Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator.”

While nature served as Gaudí’s main source of inspiration, there was another strong force which proved to be instrumental in determining the life of the architect: God. He grew up with a strong and deeply-rooted faith, but at forty; he met Bautista Grau, the bishop of Astorga, who was at the time a forerunner for the renewal of the Christian church. The two became friends and partnered together. Gaudi designed and constructed the new Episcopal Palace in Astorga for the bishop. From this point on in his career, Gaudí saw himself as an early forerunner of the Christians Church’s renewal.

At the closing curtain call of his life, Gaudí was entirely devoted to the master architect, his lord and savior. He went from designing purely for nature to designing for a deeper purpose. In fact, he even considered himself to be the “architect of the Lord”. When he was granted the commission for the Sagrada Familia, he became entirely enraptured with the project, as he saw the building as his personal link between Earth and Heaven.

The design for the church clearly comes from nature. This Temple serves as the three-dimensions representation of trees Gaudí spent most of his childhood around. He said that he designed the Temple in light of the trees because of their sturdiness and ability to bend. Gaudi designed The Sagrada Familia not to just be a towering church, but also  a speaking architecture. The ornamentation of the Temple was meant to narrate the story of the Bible even if you could not read, you would be encompassed in the design of salvation.
He lived and breathed nature and made sure his architecture did the same.
By better understanding Antonio Gaudi’s works it helps us to draw inspiration from his frailties in school to his love of nature, and eventually we can draw wisdom from the Master of intelligent design, God.

 

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