Skip to main content

Recent Issues Surrounding Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica

Even though this basilica in Barcelona has been under construction for over 130 years, it seems no one had the proper paperwork or building permits! Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica is a UNESCO world heritage site that has been attracting more than 20 million people every year.

Now, after two years of negotiations, an agreement was finally met to correct the problem. The trustees of the church have agreed to pay the $41M in fees over a period of 10 years. The city can then fund public transportation, improve accessibility, and make other needed improvements to the surrounding area.

There is no sign that the lack of intelligence will surface anytime soon. The genius, way far to the left Mayor, Ada Colau, said the Basilica’s board had never worked with the proper permit. He continued his accusations claiming they failed to pay the taxes and fees for the construction, and never submitted the required paperwork for tearing down neighboring residential buildings. According to the church (via the Times), they were given a permit back in 1885 by Sant Martí de Provençals, which was an independent town at that time. Officials insist the construction should have received new paperwork when the town merged with the capital quite a few years later.

The construction project, that is now well-known as the non-permitted site, will be completed in 2026 which is approximately 100years since the death of the architect. Adding to everything else, it seems there is a great deal of controversy over whether this famous landmark still reflects the intentions of Gaudi and is expected to continue for some time.

A Little History

Construction started in 1882 under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. When he retired in 1883, Gaudi took over the project using his own architectural prowess and engineering style. He chose to use a combination of Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau design. Gaudi devoted his entire life to this project and when he died, he was buried in the crypt. He died in 1926, at 73 years-of-age, after being run over by a streetcar and only a quarter of the project had been completed.

Sagrada Familia’s progress was very slow due to relying on private donations and then interrupted by the Spanish Civil War. Construction then resumed in the 1950s but very slowly. Sine 1882, there have been huge advancements in technology including computer design and computerised numerical control or CNC, which has greatly improved progression. The construction actually passed its midpoint in 2010 but some of the project’s greatest challenges are still unresolved. There are supposed to be 10 more spires, each representing an important Biblical figure in the New Testament. To date, it is believed Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica will be completed by 2026 on the hundredth anniversary of his death.

The basilica has experienced a long history of trials and tribulations including a major division of the citizens over the belief it would outshine Barcelona’s leading cathedral, the actual design itself, and those who believed Gaudi’s death totally disregarded his design. Then in 2007, it was proposed to build an underground tunnel in Spain’s high-speed rail to France but it was decided it could make the basilica unstable. Paraphrasing the art critic Rainer Zerbst, he believed it is impossible to find another building quite like this one in the history of art. Paraphrasing Paul Goldberger, he said it’s the most extraordinary interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.

Josep Maria Bocabella, the founder of Asociación Espiritual de Devotos de San José, was so inspired by the basilica, he wrote The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia.

In 1872, after visiting the Vatican, Bocabella returned home with thoughts of building a church inspired by the basilica at Loreto. The apse crypt of the church was funded through donations and work began on March 12, 1882, which was the festival of St. Joseph. The design was that of Francisco de Paula del Villar who wanted a Gothic revival church in a standard form. The apse crypt was completed before Villar’s resignation in 1883 and then taken over by Gaudi who drastically changed the design. Although he was not appointed Architect Director until 1884, Gaudi started work in 1883.

Sagrada Familia Basilica

The Construction

Regarding the ever slow construction, Gaudi commented that his client was not in a hurry. At the time of his death, only 15 to 20% of the basilica was completed. Work continued under the direction of Domènec Sugrañes i Gras then ceased due to the Spanish Civil War in 1936. During the war, areas of the basilica were burned along with Gaudi’s models and workshop. The design presently being used is based on a reconstructed version of his plans that were also burned in the fire and some modern adaptations have been incorporated. Since 1940, Francesc Quintana, Isidre Puig Boada, Lluís Bonet i Gari and Francesc Cardoner continued the work and the illumination was designed by Carles Buïgas.

Current Members Of The Project

The current director, Jordi Bonet i Armengo, is the son of Lluís Bonet. In the 1980’s he is the one who brought in computers for the designing and construction phases. In 2012, native-born Jordi Fauli took over as the chief architect. Currently, Mark Burry serves as the Executive Architect and Researcher and sculptures created by J. Busquets, Etsuro Sotoo and Josep Maria Subirachs now decorate the façades.

Moving Forward

As of 2000, the central nave vaulting was finished and the main challenge since then has been the construction of the transept vaults and apse. As of 2006, the focus has been on the crossing and supporting structure of the main tower of Jesus Christ and the southern enclosure of the central nave which is known as the Glory façade.

The Sagrada Familia Schools building, designed by Gaudi in 1909, share the site with the church. This building was designed for children and construction workers and then moved in 2002 from the eastern side of the site to the southern corner and is now home to an exhibition.

In Conclusion

Since it’s original birth over 130 years ago, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica has gone through many difficulties and yet is still going strong. This church has lived through a war, human disagreements, and numerous architects but still holds on to its own. As a UNESCO world heritage site, this incredible building will be completed in 2026, a testimonial to human endeavor and perseverance.

The Guggenheim Museum In Bilbao, Spain

The Magnificent Architectural Masterpieces of Frank Gehry

By rule of thumb, as architecture evolves, there are very few architects that ever become well-known for their works. One of the most famous was Frank Lloyd Wright and now there is Frank Gehry, who like him, has always marched to his own drum.

Born on February 28, 1929, in Toronto, Canada he is best known for his postmodern designs including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain. Gehry attended the University of Southern California and Harvard Graduate School for Design.

He has spent more than half-a-century going against the norm or common form of architecture and is considered a force of nature unto himself. He started his magnificent career working for Victor Gruen Associates and Pereira and Luckman out of Los Angeles. He then spent a short period of time working with Andre Remondet in Paris, France then returned to California and started his own firm. In 1989, he received the Pritzker Prize and since then does not seem to have any limits in his unique designs. Here’s what we think are his top architectural designs from around the world.

epm museum

The EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington

This was built from an idea in the head of Paul Allen who was the co-founder of Microsoft. The project was completed in 2000 and was inaugurated the “Experience Music Project”. Gehry framed the base of this space needle design to look like a steel and aluminum skin that flaps in the passing by of Seattle’s famous monorail.

The DZ Building In Berlin, Germany

The DZ Building In Berlin, Germany

This building was commissioned by DZ Bank & Hines to design a branch that would sit across from the triumphal arch. That said, under the local code in Berlin, it is prohibited that any building or structure outshine the Brandenburg Gate. Frank Gehry took on the project and designed a building with a limestone facade that was subtle. The building houses a stainless steel conference room which sits inside the atrium and is shaped like the head of a horse.

The Peter B. Lewis Building In Cleveland, Ohio

The Peter B. Lewis Building In Cleveland, Ohio

The exterior of this building is classic Gehry with ribbons of stainless steel and spreads out from its brick base. Since 2002, it is home to the Weatherhead School of Management at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The building’s open interior environment evokes a welcoming appeal.

The Richard B. Fisher Center In Annandale-On-Hudson, New York

The Richard B. Fisher Center In Annandale-On-Hudson, New York

Completed in 2001, Gehry’s stainless steel facade looks like a theatrical mask was created for the Performing Arts at the Bard College in New York. Even though he was criticized for not backing sustainability, he incorporated geothermal energy systems and many other green concepts into the building which has made the structure almost completely free of fossil fuels.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall

The Walt Disney Concert Hall

In 1988, Gehry’s the Walt Disney Concert Hall was on a waiting list to build a new home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It was finally opened in 2003 and everyone from critics to the public believed the building was well worth the wait. Because of Gehry’s love for sailing, the building’s exterior has expanses of stainless steel that billow over Grand Avenue and the interior is home to panels shaped of Douglas fir that line the auditorium.

The Guggenheim Museum In Bilbao, Spain

The Guggenheim Museum In Bilbao, Spain

Upon opening its doors in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum put Bilbao, Spain on the map and, to date, is one of the most visited sites around the world. The exhibition space is a massive elevation of glass, stone, and titanium that was structured to follow the contours of the Nervión River. Although the construction of this building went unnoticed by just about everyone, when the doors opened it was praised the “signal moment in the architectural culture”, This masterpiece secured Gehry’s place in architectural history.

Frank Gehry Davis Studio

The Davis Studio In Malibu, CA

Six years after starting his architecture firm, Frank Gehry had completed a very important project building the Davis Studio which was also Ron Davis’s home. Although this was not his first project, the design gave him incredible prestige with its slanted roof which made the house seem to rotate or twist. Presently, the home is owned by actor Patrick Dempsey and his family.

 Neuer Zollhof Complex In Dusseldorf, Germany

The Neuer Zollhof Complex In Dusseldorf, Germany

The Neuer Zollhof Complex is made up of 3 office buildings created by Frank Gehry that turned the waterfront into an amazing harbor that is now called the Media Harbour. These buildings became so popular, that this enticed many other commissions for other architects including Fumihiko Maki and Murphy. The 3 building,s making up Neuer Zollhof, were so popular they have landed a place in history as a spot on the board of the German Edition of Monopoly!

The Chiat/Day Complex In Venice, CA

The Chiat/Day Complex In Venice, CA

In 1991, Gehry built the Chiat/Day Complex for an advertising agency for their West Coast Branch. Due to its interesting shape, it is popularly known as the Binocular Building. The building sits on top 3 levels of underground parking garages that can hold up to 300 cars Entry to the parking areas is through the centrally located binoculars. The binoculars also have space for private conferences and research which all connect to the main conference room. There are also 2 rooms that following the shapes of the binoculars and the ceilings are covered with Gehry’s signature snake shape. These rooms were originally designed to serve as retreats. This complex was created in collaboration with Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The building was designed like a ship’s prow and there are 3 tree trunks that flank a sculpture. The main entrance to the building has three elements that complement the surrounding neighboring areas. This complex has become home to 500 Google employees since 2011.

Underrated Architectural Styles

There are a lot of architectural styles that we remember when we think about architecture and its history, like the Ancient Greek, Gothic, Renaissance, Modernist and Post-modern style. However, there are a lot of other styles that are not only important to the history of architecture, but also can be an important inspiration to contemporary architects.

Here we present you six of these styles. They appear based only on chronological order.

ACHAEMENIAN IMPERIAL STYLE
The Achaemenian Imperial Style was the current style of the Persian Empire when it was ruled by the Achaemenian kings (from Cyrus the Great and Xerxes I to Darius III). There are only a few traces of what was built during this period of the Persian history, basically few columns and some bas-relief. However, this style still influences the contemporary Iranian architecture, like the Dariush Grand Hotel, in Kish Island, made by Hossein Sabet. The most famous structure of that style is the Apadana, in Persepolis. It was built between the 6th and 5th century B.C.

ANCIENT ISLAM
The Ancient Islam style started when Muhammad founded the Al-Haram Mosque or The Great Mosque of Mecca (630 A.C.) and ended when the Mongols destroyed the capital of Baghdad (1258 A.C.). This style heavily influenced Portuguese, Spanish and the Latin American colonial architecture, since the Muslin occupied Portugal and Spain during part of the medieval period. One of the most beautiful buildings of this style is the Prophet Mosque, in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

SACRED INDIAN STYLE
The first centuries of the second millennium saw a burst of Indian Sacred Architecture. From about 1000 A.C. to 1260, India became a strong country that wanted to establish itself as a superpower. To do this, part of its kings started to built temples to Hindu Gods. These temples follow the conceptual design of a combination of edicts, making it look like a series of fractal. The actual Indian Sacred Style is composed by the Valabhi, Phamsana, Latina, Sekhari and Bhumija styles. One of the greatest examples of the Indian Sacred Architecture is the Udayeshvara Temple, a temple made in the Bhumija style.

NEOGREEK
The Neogreek style was a revival style that appeared in Europe in the middle of the 18th century, after the Ottoman Empire lost the control of Greece and the works of James Stuart and Nicholas Revett about the ancient Greek art and architecture was released. It was one of the first revival style, but it didn’t earn enough recognition due to an “anti-greek” opposition made by some important architects of the period and due to the rise of the Neoclassical and the Gothic Revival style. However, it was still a strong style in Scotland until the late 1870’s, mainly because of the works of Alexander “Greek” Thomson in Glasgow, and in Germany, with the works of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. One of the most important work in this style is the Bank of England in London, made by Sir John Soane.

MEIJI STYLE
The Meiji Style is the style adopted by Japan during the period it started to modernize its country. In 1868, the Meiji Emperor started a program to modernize and industrialize its country. To make this, he encouraged the study of European architecture and engineering. On the first few years of this renovation, the Emperor hired a lot of European architects to work in Japan. However, In the early 1890’s, a lot of Japanese architects started to come from university, replacing the foreigners. This style is remembered because of its cultural hybridity and to be the first ones to use reinforced concrete in a Japanese architecture. One of the greatest examples of this architecture style is the Tokyo National Museum, made by Jin Watanabe.

PETITE ARCHITECTURE
The Petite Architecture is a style of contemporary architecture that first appeared in the early 1930’s in France. The idea was to build little, petite, houses that could be taken on trips. The first house that was done thinking in these concepts was the Bivouac Shelter, by Charlotte Perriand. After 50 years, the Petite Architecture Style gained a new breath, being adopted by architects in Japan, were it earned a more technological approach. The Japanese architects abandoned the mobile approach and used the Petite approach to build houses on small lands on Japanese metropolis. From the Japanese branch, one example is the Small House in Tokyo, made by Kazuyo Sejima.