The public works of Gaudí

By 25 July, 2019Objects in focus

We all know the great monuments designed by Antoni Gaudí as the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Casa Batlló or La Pedrera (all of them part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site), but Gaudí, also had to pass for a period of learning in which he had to present several smaller projects such as interior design or public furniture.

Gaudí as an apprentice

Roundel at Parc Ciutadella

“Today we are gaving the title to a genius or a madman,” on this way one of the Gaudí’s teachers described him once he finished his studies at the Provincial School of Architecture of Barcelona. He worked as a draftsman and as an apprentice of some of them like the case of Josep Fontserè i Mestres, with which he made the design of the gate of the Ciutadella park in 1876. Gaudí was also responsible for making the roundel with a salamander, an element very present in Gaudí’s work (see the source of Park Güell), inside located at the top of the park’s waterfall.

public lighting Plaça Reial (Barcelona)

Otro de estos proyectos fue el diseño del alumbrado público de la Plaza del Rey 1879 y de Pla de Palau en 1890.  El joven arquitecto presentó dos diseños diferentes; uno con seis brazos que sujetaban las lámparas de gas salientes de la columna de hierro forjado, y otra de tan solo 3 brazos. No es casual que fuese en este preciso momento cuando el ayuntamiento sacará a concurso la adjudicación de este proyecto, ya que fue el periodo de la llegada de la electricidad a España. La primera referencia que tenemos es la de la iluminación de la farmacia de Domènech en Barcelona en 1852. No fue hasta 1875 cuando se instala en Barcelona una una dinamo capaz de iluminar varias zonas de la ciudad como las Ramblas o el Castillo de Montjuïc. Al año siguiente inicia la electrificación industrial en España. Se crea la Sociedad Española de Electricidad en Barcelona, considerada la primera empresa eléctrica del Estado.

Another of these projects was the design of the public lighting of the Plaça Reial in 1879 and Pla de Palau in 1890. The young architect presented two different designs; one with six arms that held the outgoing gas lamps on the wrought iron column, and another with only 3 arms. It is not a coincidence that it was at this precise moment when the city council will take out the award of this project. It was the period of the arrival of electricity to Spain. The first reference we have is the lighting of the Domènech pharmacy in Barcelona in 1852. It was not until 1875 when a dynamo was installed in Barcelona capable of illuminating several areas of the city such as the Ramblas or the Montjuïc Castle. The following year industrial electrification begins in Spain. The Spanish Electricity Society is created in Barcelona, ​​considered the first electricity company in the State.

Unrealized projects

Project of the Monumental Fountain of the Plaça de Catalunya (Barcelona)


Despite his genius beginning to be noticed and will be presented to many of the public architectural competitions promoted by the institutions, Gaudí could not perform several of them. Some due to lack of budget, others due to the withdrawal of the project. One of these examples is the eclectic-style flower stand for Enrique Girossi that Gaudí designed shortly after graduating in 1878. The Barcelona City Council became the project, but Girossi went bankrupt and the post was never built. A year earlier, Gaudí also presented a project for the realization of the Monumental Fountain of the Plaça de Catalunya in Barcelona.

Project of lighting of the Muralla de Mar (Barcelona)

Another project that was stored in a drawer was the lighting of the Muralla de Mar. In collaboration with Josep Serramalera, Gaudí devised for this project 20-meter-high street lamps decorated with names of some of the most relevant Catalan admirals. We can also highlight the direct commission of the town hall in 1888, when he asked the architect for a decoration reform project of the Saló de Cent and the Staircase of honor. In 1907 he designed a monument to Jaume I for the Plaça del Rei in Barcelona

We can be happy with the legacy that the great architect has left in the city of Barcelona and other territories of Spain. His great works could be carried out and everyone’s will wanted his masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, to continue in the process of construction despite the adversities of the passage of time.