Thursday, 31 December 2015

Apartment Living At Casa Mila

One nice thing about touring architectural masterpieces is the fantasy of living in the space. Let's just say the rich left behind some nice buildings. Time to check out a Casa Mila apartment.

Hello. Nice front door, complete with viewing screen covering a center hatch. Into the hallway, tracing the circular pattern of the inner courtyard.

Dining room.

Into yee olde kitchen and kitchen breakfast/sitting area. It's not easy to put a square kitchen into a Gaudi room.

Bedroom. Who pays so much attention to doors and frame moulding? That would be Gaudi.

Another bedroom, running into trouble again, trying to place that pesky square furniture. The expansive bathroom, complete with elegant copper hot water heater.

A good view of the outside hallway making an almost U-turn, just beyond the living/dining room space, which is divided with pocket doors.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Gaudi's Casa Mila, "La Pedrera"

Architect Antoni Gaudi's grandest private commission is an apartment building on one of Barcelona's fanciest streets. The thing sticks out. It's named for Pere Milà i Camps, the businessman who bought a house on the property and then hired Gaudi to replace it with a modern apartment building. The place acquired a nickname, La Pedrera, meaning the quarry.

The facade, looking a bit like a pile of rocks.

Front gate and inner courtyard. One of the innovations of the building is a parking garage. Two courtyards bisect the building, providing light to all the apartments.

Up top, the undulating roof, full of interesting constructions. And nice views.

Roof details, chimney sentries and fantastical mosaics.

Cartoon dormer windows hint at an attic, capping the inner courtyards.

The attic has been transformed into an exhibition space. One of the best features of the space is a look at the supporting structure, delicate arches based on the catenary arch principle. Gaudi was a big fan of this design element.

A model gives a good look at how rock-like the building is. La Pedrera, indeed.

An inner stairwell, not too humble to receive an impressive paint scheme. Organic columns and ceiling in one of the courtyards.

Night descending on the magical building.

Next up, a look through an apartment. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Barcelona's Christmas Markets

There are plenty of Christmas markets throughout Europe, each with its own special decorations and food. Barcelona has caganers, featured in an earlier post on this blog, worth checking out. One thing was noticeable about the markets, how seriously the Spanish take their créche building.

You think that crèche is going to build itself? Let's get shopping.

Let's start with the important stuff, incredibly detailed wise men, camels, the backbone of any good nativity scene. You might need a sign - don't want to end up in the neighbor's crèche.

Where's your humble shelter? Welcome to Manger City, all sizes, all types.

Time for some Spain specific features. Olive oil processing and a feast of sausage. Those wise men expect to be fed.
You're gonna need some animals. A lot of animals. Maybe a mouse trap.

Mama pig isn't looking happy. Those babies are really digging in. Oh well, better than the other option, only your leg left, laid out for some jamon carving. It's traditional!

You've got your full set dressing here, foreground, manger area and deep backdrop. The green turf? That's real moss you have to water. We love the background options. Are you going night, day? Full desert or a Bethlehem background?

Choose "wisely," we're sure you'll "crèche" it!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Those Crazy Caganers

We introduced the caganer concept in the previous post and wrote about the "giving back to the Earth" motivation. Time to take a look at the variety of available caganers.

Ready to choose?

Here's the traditional caganer, a humble Spaniard, just looking for a place to lay his... in someone's creche. Then it all starts to go crazy. Anyone/thing famous is ripe for the caganer treatment. Fame, be careful what you wish for.

The Fab Four flopping. Great detail, some caganers show expert execution.

Case in point, is that Mick Jagger on the right or a sack of potatoes? Poor Freddie Mercury, he's going to need liposuction. Woody Allen, kind of a combo of the two figures to his left?

More great caganer work, the Horror edition.

An army of strange poop-fellows, all lined up like they're appearing on a talk show.

So, ready to choose?

Friday, 25 December 2015

Wishing You A Very Random Christmas

In our peripatetic life, we never know what sort of Christmas manifestations we will see.

Polish Prop.

Santa in Sierra Leone (with friends).

Christmas cafe in Catalonia.  Living it up in Lithuania.

Claus at a Christmas market.

What the...? Before you get all potty mouth, there's an excellent explanation. Creches are big in Catalonia and a key ingredient is someone in the background, the caganer. Traditionally, he is a typical Catalonian figure, think farmer, peasant, what have you, and he is busy fertilizing the land for the next season. The symbolism is joy and good luck. If you don't include one of these figures in your creche, you risk a year of misfortune. We'll take the dump.

The caganer has taken off (not just his pants). Moving beyond the traditional Spanish archetypes, you can get caganers of world leaders, movie stars, athletes. Yes, even Santa is ready to unload, and not just presents. Maybe this gives expanded meaning to the above picture that includes Winnie the Pooh.

Wishing you a holiday season full of joy!

Be sure to see our next post for all folks and figures caganer.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Old Soviet Monuments Behind The Tallinn Maarjamäe Palace History Museum

Unlike its neighbor to the south, Lithuania, Estonia has yet to establish a permanent home for its old Soviet monuments. One thing was certain, they couldn't stay in the plazas and squares after independence.

Welcome to the monument graveyard, a small area behind Tallinn's city history museum. Somehow the random array of discarded monuments is particularly pleasing in its present, scattered state. A trash heap of history, come alive.

A peek through a back fence.

Always the star, a dominant Lenin.
Getting the Communist story in bits and pieces.

The "Social Realist" sculptures are fantastic, idealized workers, more like cubist comic book heroes.

Lenin head. Or is there a giant body buried?

No doubt, some monuments come packing. Lying (lying) Stalin.

Which allows for a poignant portrait.