The UPC’s Gaudí Chair has inventoried 18% of the content for the Gaudí Digital Archive and digitised 11% of the material it will contain

The UPC’s Gaudí Chair has inventoried 18% of the content for the Gaudí Digital Archive and digitised 11% of the material it will contain

Project of the Fountain for Catalonia square. Antoni Gaudi, 1877.

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The Gaudí Chair of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), a documentation and research centre located at the Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB), offered a presentation on the current status of the Gaudí Digital Archive, which will serve as a single, extensive, hyper-connected catalogue focusing on the work of Antoni Gaudí and other architects, as well as architecture and urbanism studies in the 19th and 20th centuries. With a collection of 147,000 items – including drawings, designs, photographs, objects and bibliographic material of great heritage value – the Gaudí Digital Archive will be accessible to researchers and the public online.

Feb 20, 2018

The Gaudí Chair, under the direction of architect and UPC professor Juan José Lahuerta, is based on three key pillars: the collection, the archives and the library. The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) and the Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB) are the main promoters of the Gaudí Digital Archive, a collaborative project aimed at bringing together the historical collections held in the School’s library and extraordinary graphic archives, a collection of photographic plates, and other items and documents held by the Chair. The goal is to conserve, digitise, catalogue and disseminate these materials based on scientific criteria related to the academic and research areas supported by the Chair.

The Gaudí Digital Archive will serve as an online catalogue of this wealth of heritage material. Like Gaudí’s geostatic structures, this hyper-connected catalogue will be a unique digital archive of his work, architecture studies over time, and the relationship with the city of Barcelona. It will also serve as a key reference resource on artistic thinking and modern culture from the 19th century to the present day.

To date, 18% of the collection has been inventoried (26,282 documents) and 11% of the material has been digitised (16,570 documents). Financial support for the first stage of the inventory process was provided by “la Caixa”. The director of the Chair, Juan José Lahuerta, has called for funding to continue with the project, appealing to institutions and companies to provide support.

The main aim is to make the heritage material contained in the collections of the Gaudí Chair and held in the ETSAB library and archives (most of which has not been previously released) universally accessible. Additional objectives of the digitalisation project are to promote research, study and knowledge of Gaudí’s work and of 19th- and 20th-century architecture and urbanism, and to collaborate with other institutions on projects that involve aggregating collections to increase their visibility. Other priorities for the Chair are to reduce the impact of direct handling of the original material, which is very fragile, and to seek funding for its restoration and conservation.

The material comprises the following collections:

Gaudí Chair archive of original drawings and designs (1874–1954), including works by Antoni Gaudí, Joan Matamala, Josep Maria Jujol, Francesc Berenguer, Joan Bergòs, Josep Costa (Picarol) and Ricard Opisso. The collection contains work that Antoni Gaudí did as a student, plans for works such as La Pedrera, Casa Batlló and Park Güell that survived the destruction of his professional archive in 1936, and various documents on Antoni Gaudí and contemporary Catalan architects, including magazine and newspaper articles, correspondence, photographs and ephemera.

The ETSAB graphic archive, which comprises projects, designs and drawings from various institutions involved in architecture and urbanism studies from the mid-19th century on:

- Collection of student projects and designs completed to obtain the “master of works and surveyor” qualification at the Escola de Mestres d’Obres i Directors de Camins Veïnals (1850–1855), the Escola d’Agrimensors i Aparelladors (1855–1858), and the Escola Especial de Mestres d’Obres (1859–1872).

- Maps made by surveyors and other old maps (1751–1904): original hand-drawn plot maps from the province of Barcelona, from the Escola de la Llotja in Barcelona, where surveying was taught until the mid-19th century.

- Collection of academic materials, made up of drawings and designs produced by students over the history of the ETSAB since its founding in 1871.

Personal collections, comprising drawings, designs and photographs by architects such as August Font Carreras, Bonaventura Pollés Vivó, Josep Fradera Botey, Josep Domènech Estapà and Josep Domènech Mansana.

Photographic collections, consisting mainly of glass plate negatives of journeys and excursions (1901–1923) and images of the former School building in Barcelona’s Plaça de la Universitat, from the ETSAB’s own collection; original photographs of an exhibition on Antoni Gaudí’s work held at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1910; photographs by the architect Ubaldo Iranzo Eiras, who from 1889 held various positions in the Barcelona City Council; photographs of architecture and urbanism by Antoni Esplugas i Puig, one of Barcelona’s most prominent photographers at the turn of the century; photographs by architects Josep Domènech Estapà and Josep Domènech Mansana; images from the Bassegoda-Nonell family collection; and photographs from the collection of the Canosa publishing house.

Collection of furniture, ceramics, flooring, stained glass, wrought iron railings and other items from buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí, such as Casa Milà, Casa Batlló and Park Güell.

Collection of plaster pieces (reliefs and models), furniture and ceramics from the building that formerly housed the Barcelona School of Architecture.

Specialised bibliographic collection on Antoni Gaudí, architecture and urbanism, consisting of books and journals dating from the 19th century on.

Historical bibliographic collections from the ETSAB library, comprising a collection of books published between 1515 and 1950, and journals published from the mid-19th century on.

An event to take stock of the work done the Gaudí Chair last year, presided over by Juan José Lahuerta, was held at the ETSAB on 13 February. Carmen Rodríguez, the scientific coordinator of the Chair, and Neus Vilaplana, the head of the ETSAB Library, talked about the activities carried out in 2017. Finally, four students of the School who collaborated on the Gaudí Digital Archive project from July to December 2017 spoke about their experience.

About the Chair

The Gaudí Chair, created in 1956, focuses on Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí i Cornet and his milieu. Another priority area is the study of architects, artists, intellectuals and technical experts contemporary to Gaudí, spanning the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century. The Chair aims to be a reference resource for students and researchers interested in Gaudí, offering them access to the documentary and graphic material related to the architect amassed over more than half a century.