Now you don't have to travel all the way to Barcelona to witness the stunning architectural wonders of Antoni Gaudi. Hong Kong's Times Square and Spain's Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya have joined forces to launch the first Gaudi Architecture Exhibition in Asia this month.
The show features models of his most well-known pieces, which include his work with private residences (more importantly, his work on their chimneys), elements of Park Guell, and his most famous creation, La Sagrada Familia.
Despite still being unfinished after more than 130 years of work, La Sagrada Familia (or "Holy Family") is one of the most well-known places of worship in the world and an icon of Spain. The first stone was laid way back in 1882, but at the time of his death in 1926, Gaudi had only completed construction of the nativity facade. The rest of the structure is still being built according to his design methods and geometric style.
Construction hit a snag in 1936, when part of the church and its surrounding buildings were burned and looted during the Spanish Civil War. This included Gaudi's workshop, which was right next door. Sadly, it was Gaudi's main workshop and it housed many of the plaster models, photographic tests, drawings and original designs for the basilica and other projects. The fire destroyed almost everything inside, but fortunately, many of the important parts of the design had already been published. To help keep things clear, Gaudi's followers worked together to recover some of his past teachings and instructions and rebuild some of the lost models.
Because of this, all of the architects that have come along over the years have maintained the building style as close to Gaudi's plan as possible. They've also had the benefit of using modern technology. However, Architect Director of La Sagrada Familia, Jordi Fauli, says that even though modern technology has quickened the building process, "it will still take at least another decade until all the architectural elements can be completed because of the innumerable details Gaudi integrates into his work".
Part of the difficulty is because Gaudi worked with such a wide variety of materials and styles, including sand sculptures, tile mosaics, stained glass and ironwork forging. "It may take another lifetime to complete all the complex artistic elements," Fauli claims.
He should know: he's been working on the church for 23 years! Currently Fauli's team is working on the building of the central tower and the sacristy (the room where ceremonial items are kept).
It's easy to forget that this Unesco World Heritage Site is also a functioning church, but it was consecrated as a minor basilica in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. The title means that the building carries spiritual, historical and architectural significance.
Fauli says that "Gaudi felt that it was important to invite people to see the building, whether it was for its unique architectural style or for spiritual reasons".
Whatever your reasons, you can check out a massive, three-storey model of the basilica and models of Gaudi's other architectural explorations at Times Square until June 1.