After over a decade of successful commercial architecture, Fred van Brandenburg abandoned his architectural approach in favour of a more organic and sculptural style.
This revelation happened during a trip to Barcelona in 2005 to revisit Park Guell. There, Fred was dumbstruck by the innovative design philosophies by the architect Antoni Gaudi (1852 – 1926). This cathartic experience redefined Fred as an architect and from that time onward his design direction was that all forms in architecture would be derived from those found in nature. Fred went through an extensive period of studying Gaudi’s design and engineering thought processes by travelling back to Barcelona a total of nine times. The intention was to see how the design philosophies pioneered by Gaudi more than 100 years ago could be adapted into contemporary architecture. Fred discovered Gaudi was not just an exceptional architect; he was also a brilliant engineer, and used specific geometry as a guide to make his curvilinear forms build-able.
It occurred to Fred that if he could fully understand Gaudi’s design principles and his design process, he could apply this to his own renaissance in architecture. Gaudi left no writings, but was very talkative, and his philosophies were recorded by his disciples soon after his death. Therefore, to study Gaudi, Fred had to interview those who studied Gaudi, and one of Fred’s key mentors was the late Professor Joan Bassegoda, the chair of the Institute of Gaudi Studies. He was influential in advising Fred to abandon all preconceived notions of aesthetics and look to nature for inspiration – as Gaudi would say: “…to be original, you must return to the sources…” and the only “great open book that one must strive to read (is) the Book of Nature.”