Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Relection, refraction, light, water, brilliance!

Glazed ceramic in Gaudí 's architecture
Gaudí 's architecture is characterised by colour. The master used to say that colour is the sign of life. It is for this reason that all of his architecture is intensely chromatic. Gaudí understood that colour is the effect of reflection of light on objects but that light has another property too: it is refractive. In other words, when rays of light hit a shiny surface, or water, the effect of refraction occurs causing brilliance or iridescence.

This led Gaudí to use glazed ceramic, which provided very bright colours as well as allowing him to incorporate iridescence. He then took his three-dimensional twisted surfaces and covered them with ceramic tiles.

Finding of course that it was impossible to lay tiles on a curved surface, Gaudí responded by coming up with one of his major inventions: "trencadís". He asked for the tiles to be broken and, with the pieces, created mosaic that was Byzantine in style yet had one peculiarity: it mixed fragments from different pieces, thereby achieving the surprising effect of a new, more lively and interesting composition completely unrelated to the original tiles.

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