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Antonio Gaudi y Cornet (1852-1926)

Expiatory Church of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Designer: Gaudi, Antoni (1852-1926)
Copyright: Robert Elwall/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1994)

The son of two metal workers, Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí y Cornet, the Catalan architect, was educated at the Escola Tècnica Superior d'Arquitecture, Barcelona. After five years of study he was awarded the title of architect. Gaudí was to remain loyal to the school all his life.


Gaudí’s most significant work was the Sagrada Familia (begun by Gaudí in 1884 and continued for the remainder of his life) in Barcelona. He designed the Roman Catholic church with 18 towers: 12 for each of the apostles, 4 for the evangelists, and one for Mary and the final one for Jesus. Gaudí experienced personal tragedy during the time he was working on the Sagrada Familia as his closest family and friends began to die. Gaudí’s attitude began to change. He became withdrawn and unwilling to engage with the press. He shied away from all kinds of publicity and tried to immerse himself in his work.


Gaudí died in the street after being run over by a tram. His ragged appearance belied the architect beneath and he was taken to a pauper’s hospital in Barcelona. He was buried inside his beloved Sagrada Familia.


Although Gaudí’s initial work was in the style of Gothic, he eventually worked in the Modernist style (Art Nouveau) in an unique and individualistic way. He continually changed his mind about his work, which has made it particularly difficult to complete the unfinished work at Sagrada Familia. Gaudí is often called 'God’s architect', because it is thought that his work was an agreement between Gaudí and God, without the need for written instruction.


Gaudí was never nominated for the Royal Gold Medal.