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Gaudi was born in the town of Reus (although there is some conjecture regarding this as his birth is not documented), in the northeastern region of Catalonia, on the 25th of June 1852. Antoni Gaudi was the youngest of five children born to Francesc Gaudi and his wife Antonia.
Gaudi showed a great deal of pride in his heritage and as a youngster spent many of his Mediterranean summers studying the local nature around his maternal family home in Riudoms. It was while undertaking his nature studies that Gaudi first became aware of the structures and essence of building which would be so influential during his later life in architecture.
Illness in his Younger Life
As a youngster, Gaudi suffered from ill-health including rheumatism. Due to these problems the young Gaudi became a vegetarian. As Gaudi’s father was a boilermaker, young Antoni became aware of, and interested in, the concepts of working with space and volume while assisting in the family workshop. He joined the Piarists School where his artistic skills were allowed to flourish. While studying, the young Gaudi also worked as an apprentice in the "Vapor Nou", a textile mill in his home town. During 1868 he moved to the Convent del Carme, in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, in order to study to become a teacher.
Interest in Utopian Socialism
It was during his time studying in Barcelona that led to him becoming very interested in the concept of 'Utopian Socialism'. Along with his fellow students, Eduard Toda i Güell and Josep Ribera i Sans, Gaudi devised a plan to turn the Catalan Poblet Monastery into a 'Phalanstere'. A Phalanstere is a self-contained, utopian community which would normally host between 500 and 2000 who would work together in the common interest off all of them.
Studying Architecture in Barcelona
In 1870 Gaudi moved on to begin his studies at the la Llotja School and at the Provincial School of Architecture in Barcelona. His study in Barcelona was disrupted as he was called upon to undertake his military service at that time. However,the severity and disabling effects of his rheumatism meant that he was considered to be not suitable for military service and this allowed him to be discharged to return to continue with his studies in Barcelona.