1908: Colὸnia Gϋell – Barcelona, Spain
Building: Colὸnia Gϋell
Location: Barcelona, Spain
By: Antoni Gaudi
Construction: 1908 –
Innovation Genre: Masonry
Innovation Aspect: Gravity/Upside-Down Tension Models
In 1898, Antoni Gaudi began the concept for the Colὸnia Gϋell church and crypt. The construction began in 1908, and the crypt was completed in 1914 (church incomplete). Gaudi designed the crypt and church using gravity models (upside-down tension models) that he took photos of then turned over and traced the form of the building over. By inverting tension models, Gaudi was able to simulate the effects gravity would play on the structural integrity of the building. In the photo of the building today, the “roof” of the structure was actually to be the first floor of the church; the actual building present is only the crypt of the Colὸnia Gϋell.
The discovery of gravity models allowed for architects and engineers to easily perform structural analysis to influence form. Although this is not nearly accurate enough for today’s structural standards for analyzing a structure, it is a good “rule-of-thumb” for initiating form.