The “Sagrada Familia”.

The Templo Expiatoria de la Sagrada Familia (Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family).

I decided to place the Sagrada Familia in a category of it’s own, because there is nothing like it in the world, and never likely to be anything like it. SO where do we start with this – at the beginning probably being the best place. Antoni Gaudi wasn’t the original architect, he took the building over in 1883 after the original architect Francisco de Paula del Villa who began the work in 1882, resigned due to disagreements with the Council. No doubt Gaudi’s early work with the Council helped, but he was only 31 years old when he began a lifetime’s work.

Gaudi changed the original design of Villa’s structure, which, as did all Cathedrals built until then, relied upon “flying buttress'” to counteract the weight of walls and roof. Gaudi described these as “crutches”, and his incredible innovation can be seen internally in the way the columns completely support the towers and roof, There is a great deal of symbolism in the construction, the east facade facing the rising sun, depicts the birth of Jesus, the western side facing sunset depicts his execution. There are 12 towers representing the disciples, the main tower which is under construction, is to be the highest at 170 metres and represents Jesus Christ, 4 towers representing the evangelists will surround this, and a tower over the apse will represent the Virgin Mary. These latter towers are now under construction. Gaudi studied the sound of bells for 4 years before dedicating the 8 towers already built to house “tubular bells”, long cylindars which would give perfect intonation. It can be said that this building represents Gaudi’s deep religious beliefs, his philosophy, quite apart from the richness of this building, his life was one of humility and he died as a pauper. It also includes his masterful innovation and his gift to the architecture of the day and for posterity.

But the importance of Gaudí’s unfinished building is not only religious; it may be considered the “Book of Gaudí” because it is the clearest explanation of his method of construction. In this work Gaudí applied all the structural solutions that he had studied and tested more than once in the works which he created throughout his life. These solutions were, for him, simple corrections of the errors that previous styles committed. Gaudí had learned much by observing nature and its shapes, and by simply trying to imitate them. The structure of the temple is formed, based on leaning columns, with abundant ramifications in the upper sections, whose branches hold up small fragments of hyperboloid vaults, which produce the effect of a forest.

For more information on Gaudi the man, and his architecture please vist ;

1/ The Sagrada Familia in 2001                                                                                       2/ The Sagrada Familia at night                                                                                        3/ The Sagrada Familia by day today.

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