The dragon of Barcelona: Gaudi’s Casa Batlló is one of the most bizarre architectural works from the 20th century

Casa_Batllo_Overview_Barcelona_Spain_cutBarcelona is a city of great culture and amazing architecture which makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Some of the most recognizable architectural masterpieces were constructed by the one and only Antoni Gaudi, who at the beginning of 1900 started to build a house which today is considered as one of his greatest works.   398px-CasaBatllo_0054The name of the house is Casa Batlló and the architect’s idea was to depict Saint George and the dragon. He was hired by the Batlló family to rebuilt their previous home. The owner gave total freedom to Gaudi to do what thinks its best to reconstruct the whole place. With his artistic vision, he created the most authentic work of art.800px-Close_up_Casa_BatloThe texture of the façade looks like a dragon’s gills and there is a cross on the roof that represents the saint. The balconies which are carved of cast iron look like faces and suppose to be the skulls of the dragon’s victims. The unusually shaped windows in the lower part of the house and the entrance have white curved frames and highly decorated columns that combined together look like a dragon’s jaw. That is way Casa Batlló is also dubbed as the House of Bones.CasaBatllo_inner_courtyardThe interior is as bizarre as the exterior. One of the most stunning spaces is the loft with its nadrealistic white walls that looks like a dragon’s spine. The main floor is the largest space in the house which has the unusually shaped windows covered with colorful stained glass. The most popular feature in the house is the roof which according to Gaudi represents the dragon’s back. It is made of colorful ceramic tiles and there is a small window shaped like a triangle that symbolizes the dragon’s eye.
CasaBatllo_rooftop_chimneys_dragonThe house was finished in two years, and from 1910 it was impossible for the locals to not stop in front of it and admire its unusual beauty. The word of the House of Bones spread fast around the world and everyone was excited to see this dragon in the middle of the city. It belonged to the Batlló family until the 1950s and after almost forty years it was bought by the Bernat family who are the current owners. From 1995, the house is open to the public and many events are hosted during each year. Millions of people come to visit the house and it always stands out as one of the greatest places they’ve visited from their must-see lists. In 2005, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and remains as one of the most valuable icons of Barcelona. CasaBatlló_NobleFloor_saloon_side1024px-Casa_Batlló_(Antoni_Gaudi)_(interior,_ceiling_close_up),_43,_Passeig_de_Gràcia,_Eixample,_Barcelona,_Catalonia,_Spainimages: wiki

The great North American migration: a butterfly extravaganza

It is perhaps the quietest animal migration on earth, so quiet in fact that until the 1970s no one even knew it happened. Every fall monarch butterfly populations of the United States and southern Canada head south to overwintering sites in Mexico. They go in search of food and warmer climes, a migratory journey that can take these delicate creatures two months to complete. Some will have traveled 3,000 miles, a seemingly formidable task for such a small and delicate a creature as a butterfly.MonarchInMexicoThen, each March the next generations of monarchs return north, arriving home in July, having flown 50 to 100 miles every day for several weeks helped only by the wind and their fat reserves. It is the only butterfly known to perform such a migration, more likely seen in birds and larger animals, and although monarch butterflies can be found across the globe, the great North American migration is carried out by just one subspecies increasingly threatened by habitat loss and disease.MonarchMigrationMapThey roost in huge numbers climbing into the millions on oyamel fir trees in just a few special mountain sanctuaries such as Sierra Chincua outside of the town of Angangueo in central Mexico. Completely covering the trees, they have been known to break the branches of the oyamels with their combined weight, despite the fact each individual weighs less than a gram. Even more astonishingly, the butterflies arrive at the same trees generation after generation, somehow knowing their destination without ever having seen it for themselves.monarchPairBonSecourRefugeThe oyamel trees – also known as the sacred fir – create a microclimate which protects the butterflies from the worst of the weather, preventing temperatures rising too high or dropping too low, while clustering together also helps the creatures keep warm. To see the dark orange stained-glass patterning of the wings huddled among others on the trees, or the insects sweeping around the forest like the dropping leaves of fall is one of nature’s most astonishing spectacles.Metamorphosis MonarchOnNewEngland images: fws.gov

Metabolist architecture coming to South Brooklyn, inspired by eco-regeneration

Citiscape Consulting has just revealed the first-look renderings of their latest architectural venture, and it’s stunning. This tower which looks like it came straight out from a science fiction novel is going to be a long-term care facility in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.1508-Avenue-Z-from-East-15th-Avenue-design-by-Citiscape-Consulting-hero-1024x0-c-defaultThe design, which looks like a futuristic tower of cubes and hexagons, was inspired by an architectural movement from post-war Japan, called Metabolism. In Japan they called it “shinchintaisha”, a literal translation of metabolism in a biological sense. But for a country still struggling to make sense of the tragedies of war, the word meant something else. Regeneration. That from the ashes of yesterday, they will create living structures that are capable of organically growing and adapting as symbols of resilience…. So how will these ideas translate into a 16-storey medical structure?1508-Avenue-Z-design-by-Citiscape-Consulting-2 The building which will be located at 1508 Avenue Z, will have a crown of vegetation, and each of the building’s hexagonical shell will carefully integrate organic elements such as live plant walls and wood. Staying true to its green theme is a special rainwater capture system, making sure that the building’s plumbing and its greenery’s maintenance are low-cost and highly sustainable. Aside from that, the building will also have a CO2-cleaning organic material which seeks to help lessen air pollution. And finally, the structure will be equipped with sun-responsive panels designed to keep the building cool and comfortable for its inhabitants. Kisho-Kurokawa-Modular-Nakagin-Capsule-Tower-at-Airbnb-1-889x594When done, the building will dedicate more than 3000 square feet to its medical facilities, almost 4000 square feet for retail, and 42,000 square feet for residential units. 1508-Avenue-Z-facade-closeup-design-by-Citiscape-Consulting-768x1024What’s even more exciting is the fact that metabolist architecture seeks to create structures that are meant to change through time—something that grows. This is reminiscent of one of the most iconic works in the movement, the Nakagin Capsule Tower designed by the Japanese architect Kisho Kurakawa. It is a modular capsule building, which meant that each of the units, or rather, “capsules” of the building can be moved, removed, and changed. How will this concept work on this building, we wonder? Will it also be able to change its appearance and adapt accordingly? Only time will tell.

(h/t, images: archpaper.com, inhabitat.com, newyorkyimby.com)