CRAZY WEDNESDAY: THE GAUDI OF SAO PAULO

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This beautiful house was built from everyday bits and pieces, often reclaimed from rubbish, by Estevao Silva de Conceicao. His work of art has taken over two decades to build, and incorporates, amongst other things, mobile phones, typewriters, statues and lots of discarded crockery formed into stunning mosaics. Situated in the shanty town of Paraisopolis, the “Casa de Pedra”, or House of Stone, overlooks the favela that houses more than 70,000 people.

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Although the entire space of the house is only 75 square metres, and only eight metres high, it has become a tourist attraction, partly because the style so resembles the work of genius Catalan architect, Antonio Gaudi. It is easy to see how the comparisons have arisen, when you compare the frontage of the Casa de Pedra with the surreal constructions in Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona. Most famous for the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, Gaudi also made much use of mosaic in his work.

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The most amazing part of the story, though, is that Conceicao has no formal architectural training, and had never heard of Gaudi until visitors started telling him how similar the two men’s work was. He has since been able to visit Barcelona to see for himself, but the Casa de Pedra has always been a home for him, his wife and their two sons. “I planted a rose tree and it got very big, and I built the structure of the house in a way that would allow the tree to grow… I replaced it with other trees, and I never stopped planting and building”, he said.

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Despite his fame, Gaudi was a modest man. He always dressed shabbily, and preferred to walk everywhere. When he was hit by a streetcar, nobody recognized him. He was taken to a pauper’s hospital, where he died.

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Amanda

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