Tag Archives: Architecture

Glorious Gaudí

Glorious Gaudí

In a remarkable year for the Catalonian independence movement – and don’t worry, we’re not about to get political – we thought now would be the perfect time to take a look at the work of the legendary architect Antoni Gaudí.

After all, from the Park Güell (opened to the public in 1926) to the Basílica de la Sagrada Família (on which construction work began in 1882 and continues today!), Gaudí’s work dominates the great city of Barcelona.

And why do we love his work so much? One word: passion. Gaudí’s love of architecture flows through his projects and it’s a passion we share at Greenway Associates. We never forget that when you invest in, say, a home extension or even a whole new house, you’re not buying bricks and mortar or architectural plans – what you’re really buying is a safe, warm environment in which you and your family can relax, laugh and play.

Glorious Gaudí

Gaudí (1852-1926) reminds us all that great architecture, from Barcelona to Surrey, brings joy. His love of the natural world is a particularly notable feature in his projects. He often, included floral or reptilian designs in his metalwork and, on a more philosophical level, spoke of being inspired by the so-called ‘equilibrated architecture’ of a tree, simply standing balanced without the need for internal bracing or external buttressing.

With curved roofs that seem to flow like ocean waves and brightly coloured tiles, Gaudí’s buildings almost look and feel alive. The man himself said: “Colour in certain places has the great value of making the outlines and structural planes seem more energetic.”

Any visit to Barcelona will allow you to immerse yourself in Gaudí’s work. We’ve already mentioned the Park Güell and the Basílica de la Sagrada Família, but we would also urge you to look at two apartment buildings which show off his equilibrated style – the Casa Batlló (on which Gaudí completed renovation work in 1906) and the Casa Milà (completed in 1912). Again, Gaudí returned to the natural world for inspiration on these projects and, depending on your personal perspective, the sweeping exteriors of both buildings could be said to resemble the soaring mountains or rolling sea surrounding Barcelona.

The Casa Batlló is now open to the public and we’d particularly draw your eye to the roof of the building, which many locals say is shaped like the scaly spine of the dragon killed by St. George. (Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia.)

Casa Batlló

Members of the public can also visit the remarkable Casa Milà, affectionately nicknamed ‘La Pedrera’ because of the building’s resemblance to a stone quarry. This extraordinary, dream-like structure, with a rough and undulating outward appearance, seems to have grown rather than having been built. If you want your home to stand out from your neighbours’ houses, ask for a Gaudí-style façade!

Gaudí’s thoughts on architecture often make fascinating reading, but we’re not absolutely sure about this statement: “There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.” Is that last point entirely practical? Many modernist architects, who tend to love rectangular shapes, would certainly disagree with Gaudí.

Nonetheless, few architects have designed buildings exuding as much warmth and humanity as Gaudí’s masterpieces. At Greenway Associates, we too believe architecture should be so much more than a technical exercise. We’d love to make your dream of a perfect home come true.

Here at Greenway Associates we have over 24 years’ experience, and work hard to keep abreast with the best in design technology and planning policy. Whatever you are looking for, please get in touch for more advice, Greenway Associates or call us on 01737 652 737.

What Is Post-Modern Architecture?

What Is Post-Modern Architecture?

The term ‘Modernist’ Architecture, as we wrote in our blog post of March 7 this year, is now truly misleading. By the end of the 20th century, modernism had largely fallen out of popularity in the UK. Ironically, therefore, modernism was sliding into history (although the movement undoubtedly remains hugely influential today). Architects were looking for new approaches, so ‘Post-Modern’ came next. What is ‘post-modern’ architecture? Where can we find post-modern structures, and could a little post-modernism help that building project you are planning?

Post-modernism emerged in the 1960s, pioneered most notably by the architect Robert Venturi (American, born in 1925) and then developed by architects including Michael Graves (American, 1934-2015) and Frank Gehry (Canadian-American, born in 1929). As the name suggests, the movement was a direct response to modernism, which was the dominant global architectural style of the 20th century. The post-modernists particularly disliked the austerity, formality and lack of variety in modernist architecture. Instead, colour and decoration became fashionable. The pragmatic principles of modernism were not all rejected but post-modernists sought to add a little fun to the functionality. Buildings started looking a lot less like machines.

So how exactly do we recognise post-modernist architecture? Key elements include:

• Placing great importance on the facade of the building;
• Classical motifs, literary allusions and historical references;
• Bright colours;
• The subtle use of unconventional materials, and;
• Structural variety.

Modernist Architecture Surrey

Intrigued? You can find fantastic post-modern architecture across the world nowadays, so let’s take a look at just a few of the finest examples:

Guild House (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: VSBA Architects and Planners/Robert Venturi). First occupied in 1964, providing housing for the elderly, Guild House is one of the earliest expressions of post-modernism. The building may not look particularly revolutionary now but even the large arched window can be seen as a rejection of the modernists’ love of rectangular shapes. Does the lettering at the front, bearing the name of the building, need to be quite so large? Clearly not, the letters are arguably at least as much ornamental as functional, whereas the modernists sought to minimise ornamentation. Venturi’s decision to place a fake golden television antenna on the roof of the building, as a playful reference to the main hobby of the elderly residents, was a sign of the post-modernists bringing a new sense of fun to architecture.

Team Disney Building (Burbank, California: Michael Graves Architecture & Design). Talking of fun, the next time you are passing through California (and we assume a jet-setter like you is always passing through California), take a look at the Team Disney Building. Snow White’s seven dwarfs holding up the roof is a great example of post-modern wit.

The Binoculars Building (Los Angeles, California: Frank Gehry). We mentioned the importance of facades to post-modern architects and the iconic binocular-shaped entrance to this building is indeed one of the most famous facades in the world. The fact the other parts of this commercial office complex, opened in 1991, look nothing like binoculars ticks the post-modern box of structural variety.

The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) Building (London: Farrells). The home of James Bond and the Secret Intelligence Service since 1994 is, ironically, one of Europe’s most famous buildings. The fact post-modernists love historical allusions explains why the 20th-century design actually reminds you of ancient Mayan and Aztec temples.

Modernist Architecture Design

Does your company need a new office building? Are you planning a home extension, or a whole new home? Whatever your requirements (and even if you don’t want Disney characters holding up the roof), a few post-modern decorative flourishes might help to make your next architectural project truly unique.

Here at Greenway Associates we have over 23 years’ experience, and work hard to keep abreast with the best in design technology and planning policy. Whatever you are looking for, please get in touch for more advice at Greenway Associates or call us on 01737 652737.