Our Relationships To Nature – Gaudi’s Architecture

Nature has inspired humans in many ways over many centuries. But maybe none match the completeness of Antoni Gaudi’s relationship with nature – Nature as structural, functional, spiritual and decorative inspiration.

Casa Batlo, Barcelona. Photo Sergio Muscat

Gaudi was a spiritual man with a great regard for nature as God’s creation. The newly consecrated Sagrada Familia “strives to compress all of earth and heaven into its structure – endless saints, biblical scenes, symbols, inscriptions, seashells, reptiles, birds, flowers and fruit.” according to Rowan Moore in The Observer. Gaudi even included in his highly decorative (if sometimes pretty ugly) sculptural details, images of the animals that were going to be displaced by the building of the huge church on the then outskirts of Barcelona. Neither are sculptural details reproducing nature limited to the Sagrada Familia – they are widespread across Gaudi’s full range of art-in-building.

Casa Batlo, Barcelona. Photo Sergio Muscat

But Gaudi also realized that nature provided more than mere decoration. His structural forms mimicked those found in nature thereby providing him with both aesthetic and functional benefits.  Columns mirroring trees or human bones, roof structures mirroring leaves, arches mirroring rib cages; all these allowed him to reduce the materials needed to build strong structures because of the supreme functionality gained from reproducing nature’s designs.

The Sagrada Familia column structures gain strength by mirroring nature's architecture

Then, of course, there is the sheer joyfulness, color and blousy expressionism of natural forms that find themselves expressed in Gaudi’s celebration of life.

A celebration of life

Gaudi transformed Barcelona into an art gallery with a celebration of life on every street. His designs were sometimes outrageous – as outrageous as the plants and creatures inhabiting a tropical rain forest. In using natural forms, Gaudi was, maybe, one of the first in what would be today called a sustainable architect. He understood that nature gives us not only beauty, recreation and joie de vivre but also wisdom – something that maybe we could all learn a bit more of today.


  1. Hi!
    1) Thank you for you fantastic job.
    Second: Congratulations for very oryginal issues especialy in this article http://www.thethirdray.com/sculpture/our-relationships-to-nature-gaudis-architecture/. Very interesting to see this blog that gets the influential ideas.
    3) Could you upload the some texts somewhere or write me an email Barrie@gmail.com? – That?s be great:)
    I no doubt give your link to Facebook Our Relationships To Nature – Gaudi’s Architecture The Third Ray

    Best regards
    Architecture Design.

  2. Los talentos espirituales de ciertas personas son un regalo hermoso para todos. Qué dicha que nos lo regalen a aquellos que los admiramos. Muchas gracias por compartir.

  3. Pingback: Barcelona—Gaudi’s City | The Nature of Cities

  4. Very inspiring articles – thanks!
    This one on Gaudi reminds me of the fabulous work being done by those working in the field of Biomimicry – finding more sustainable solutions in architecture, non-toxic chemistry, cleaning products, packaging, transport and so on, by imitating nature’s designs – see Janine Benyus on TED Talks and the Biomimicry Institute website.

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