Sir Barken Hyena writes:
Here’s something amazing about Gaudi’s design methods. Take a look at this:
The Catalan architect used “a scale model to calculate structures: for the church of the Colònia Güell, he built a 1:10 scale model with a height of 4 metres (13 ft) in a shed next to the building. There, he set up a model that had strings with small bags full of birdshot hanging from them. On a drawing board that was attached to the ceiling he drew the floor of the church, and he hung the strings (for the catenaries) with the birdshot (for the weight) from the supporting points of the building—columns, intersection of walls. These weights produced a catenary curve both in the arches and vaults. At that point, he took a picture that, when inverted, showed the structure for columns and arches that Gaudí was looking for.” (From Wikipedia)
And this is the building that resulted
I don’t think this method could pass the codes today, though these buildings have stood for over a century with no problems. Does that mean a genius of this depth couldn’t make it in today’s world? Gaudi also worked very closely, on site with the builders. The model above was made in a shed next to the building site. So details were left to evolve based on the ongoing construction process, another benefit.
Part of the reason we don’t make nice buildings anymore is that we’ve made it much harder for nice buildings to get built.