Joan Bassegoda i Nonell was born in Barcelona in 1930, obtained his titles in architecture in 1957, and in between the years 1968 and 2000 was a member of the "Cátedra Gaudí". He has written numerous books on the history of architecture, restoration of monuments, history of gardens, and, above all, Gaudí and his epoch. Also, he has collaborated in the writing of many newspaper and magazine articles. Since August of 2000 he has been the conserver of the Museum, Archives, and Library of the "Cátedra Gaudí".
- How did you begin to study the figure of Gaudí?
When I studied the field, they already spoke to us a lot about Gaudí. I was a disciple of Ráfols, the first biographer of Gaudí, and I studied history with him, who intilled in us this figure. Moreover, in 1965, I was elected as President of the society of Friends of Gaudí, and in 1968 I won my way into the "Cátedra Gaudí".
I am also the third generation of my family which is in some way related to Gaudí. My great uncle was a contemporary of Gaudí's, my grandfather wrote six articles on Gaudí and also knew him pretty well, and my father restored the gate of Finca Güell, located in front of the Pharmacy School. When my grandfather was President of the Architects' Association they had a fundraiser to raise money for Sagrada Familia and Gaudí went to thank him in person. And so, there has been an uninterrupted reltionship during three generations.
- What is the "Cátedra Gaudí"?
It was created in 1956 to study Gaudí and the architecture of the 19th and 20th Centuries. It was established in the Architecture School and it was Ráfols, precisely, who was the Cátedra's first director. When he retired, there was an inactive period until I came in 1968, after winning membership, I gave it the impulse to start up again.
The Cátedra is found in the Pavillions of the entrance of Finca Güell, a Gaudinian building, declared a Historic-Artistic Monument by the Cátedra Gaudí. There you will find the library, with 15,000 volumes, extremely rich archives, an architectural museum, with over 120 pieces, which forms a part of an itinerant exposition which has been all over the world.
In 1996, the Cátedra Gaudí received the Gold Medal of Fine Arts, which is the highest distinction in Spain, and the following year, King Juan Carlos I gave it the title "Royal, Royal Cátedra Gaudí."
- As a consequence of your retiring, the University of Barcelona and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia want to create the Gaudí Foundation.
When I retired (August, 2000) I was named conserver of the Cátedra. But this past March 26th an agreement was signed between the two universities creating the "Gaudí Workshop", which will exist temporarily until the Foundation is created. This Workshoop has an advising board formed of the chancellors of the two universities, the two directors of the Architecture School, the deacons of the Fine Arts and Art History Faculties, and myself.
Therefore, the intervention of the two universities has been made official, because until now, the Cátedra was part of the Politechnic University of Catalonia, but was situated in one of the buildings of the University of Barcelona (the Pavillions of the Finca Güell).
- What will this new entity include?
This means that the two universities are ready, by means of this Gaudi Workshop, the take on any initiative having to do with Gaudí.