Friday, July 31, 2009

Josep Maria Jujol Torre de la Creu

The Torre de la Creu, just outside Barcelona, was designed in 1913 by Josep Maria Jujol a former assistant of the Barcelona based architect Antoni Gaudi.

The building actually consists of two separate properties within the same structure. What is probably unique about the building is the way that it has taken the idea of the circle as its starting point, rather than the more traditional square or rectangle. The building is constructed using six intersecting circles as a floor plan. These circles then become the base of six cylinders which make up the bulk of the building. By varying the height of these cylinders, an uneven and asymmetrical roof line was easily and effectively achieved. The building was then split down the middle with a dividing wall to create the two properties.

The building is unique and even if the plans were repeated, no two buildings would be the same. There is an element of art in this form of structure that lends little to the idea of mass-produced housing or of the domestic setting being more like a machine than a dwelling. Jujol's organic housing, although based loosely within the Art Nouveau movement, has many similarities to the idea of the Art House, a domestic building that is created as a whole, both inside and out, as an individual construction that does not have to necessarily relate to any other building in its vicinity.

Jujol was part of the architectural school of Barcelona, led by Gaudi. While popular within the city and Catalonia generally, this sometimes extreme and certainly individual approach to architectural design did not travel well outside its core area, as many who were not familiar with with the style and particularly the history of Catalonia were often confused, so that the borrowing of specifically Spanish based Islamic and medieval decoration and architectural formulas meant little to outsiders. Consequently the style that became so closely associated with Gaudi and his small group of followers, is often considered to be insular and remote from the mainstream and international architectural movement of the twentieth century.

However, as regards the idea of organic and fluid building techniques and ideas towards the creative use of space within often dull domestic parameters, the Torre de la Creu building makes a contribution towards our understanding of what exactly it is to live in a home that is both individual and inspiring.

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