Archives for posts with tag: architecture

My mother and I went to Cuba and spent a week walking around Havana.

Despite the overwhelming taxi options in Havana (classic Cadiallac, coco taxi, horse-drawn carriage, scooters…), we walked. And slowed down by our feet and the humidity and the heat, we saw all the textures of the falling-apart colonial houses, the layers of arches and doors and courtyards, the restoration, the sleeping dogs, and the dusty streets.

Here are a few shots of walls (and one dog) in Havana:

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Today, I learned from Google, is Antoni Gaudí’s 161st birthday.

Just last week, I was in the Barcelonan sun, discovering this amazing architect’s work in person. The Modernista darling designed some of the most interesting apartments, parks, houses, and Spain’s #1 tourist attraction (which has been under construction for more than 100 years), La Sagrada Família.

I was told they’d tried to develop a film about Gaudí, seeing as he’s such a hot name, but, unlike Dalí or Picasso, Gaudí’s life was not dramatic or romantic enough. That’s what you get for being totally and utterly devoted to your work. Although he did get hit by a tram on June 7th, 1926. Everyone thought he was a tramp, so didn’t bother bringing him to the hospital. People are awful. He died three days later.

Other than that, no romance or raucous adventures for Gaudí! Work and God, that was enough for him. But God, what beautiful work!


The courtyard of La Pedrera (built 1905-1910)


On the roof of La Pedrera.


View of La Sagrada Família from the roof of La Pedrera.


Imagine living in this apartment… Casa Batlló.


Detail of La Sagrada Família being constructed.


Waiting to get into La Sagrada Família. If you want a glimpse of the amazing interior, get there early. Very early. Or get your tickets online.


The spellbinding ceiling of La Sagrada Família.


Inspired by nature: trees as columns in La Sagrada Família.


Stained glass and amazing light, La Sagrada Família.


Walkway at Parc Güell.


That famous bench, Parc Güell.

Wandering a city where the façade of a building can have you entranced for many minutes (I was going to say hours, but that’s ridiculous) made me wonder why we are so afraid to inject any kind of originality in our own everyday architecture. It is possible to be beautiful and functional at once.

And I’m sure each city has its own aspiring Gaudí, just waiting for a chance to carve something spectacular into a skyscraper. Obviously, the argument is money, right? No one has any money, so build fast and cheap.

But they charge hundreds of individuals €18 each to go into La Sagrada Família (more if you want to visit the towers, which I was too scared and cheap to do), €16.50 for La Pedrera, €18.15 for Casa Batlló… the park is free (until further notice). So someone is making their money back.

I demand more beauty (and not just the kind that you have to look for through the cracks in the concrete)!

Belgrade. What can I say about Belgrade?

First of all, I am ashamed to say that after all the war stories I heard in Croatia and Bosnia, I developed a funny feeling towards (against?) Serbia. Shows how easy it is to succumb to idiotic prejudice. Plus, we’d heard Belgrade was good only for its nightlife, but was otherwise just ugly blocks of concrete.

Don’t listen to people. People can be wrong or blind. Or just have different opinions.

Belgrade may be a big city, but it is beautiful (its National Theatre is stunning, at least from the outside. I never actually ended up seeing that Anouilh play in Serbian…) and has a very very cool vibe.

I don’t really know where to start (getting a history lesson from the receptionist? watching the girls in impossibly high heels stumble down the cobbled streets?), so I’ll just show you some photos I took of the big church everyone kept telling us to go see (“But the inside isn’t finished,” they’d add apologetically). And it is a big church and the inside was not finished. But the inside was what I spent ages looking at, wrapped in plastic sheets like a Christo.


Cathedral of Saint Sava, the biggest Orthodox church in the world, apparently. Still working on the inside. And not actually a cathedral.