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La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Friday 15 Aug 2008

An impossible legacy?

La Sagrada Familia by Editorial in Barcelona, Spain
Your comments on this project

No. of Comments: 4

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23/08/08 Kiran Kalamdani, Pune India
I am an architect working in Pune India for the last 20 years and Gaudi happens to be one of my personal favourites. It was not uncommon for work on many such church buildings to go on for centuries. In India the work on many temples was done in a similar manner. The fundamental difference between the eastern and western cultures is the importance given to the artist and his position on the team that some times was larger than the work in western situations. In the orient it has never been so. It is obvious from the contemporary architecture being patronized across the world that religious buildings are out of favour and they no longer attract the best of the profession. The thrust of human civilization is towards art galleries and commercial buildings or airports! It is good that the Spanish artists have come out in open criticism against the work at the Sagrada Familia. It should help improve the quality of the work and correct some imbalances that relate to patronage, talent, continuity and the status of the architect.
Kiran Kalamdani
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20/08/08 David Clark, Joburg
My old friend, Barcelona, greetings. I have a strange life somewhere else, with a very different set of abilities, views and circumstances. Because of the shock impact of the bus on my head and my head on the pavement I am at times a touch confused as to what is really going on. Yet I have peculiar resonances with this story and feel drawn to expose anomalies in your thoughts. These appear to be causing great confusion in my old town.

First, remember always, my work is a monument not to me, but to our Creator, so it ultimately matters little what it looks like if it does not revere that. The concept arrived through a gift of awe and reverence for the marvel and intricacies of what we are privileged to be part of and experience. Perhaps 'imitation is the most sincere form of flattery' might explain that. If it is organic and appears to be unplanned, then it is so as a reflection of the greater Creation. Some decisions are best made under pressure than leisure.

Second, in this article, some claim "the new work will bear little resemblance to Gaudi's vision" on the one hand, and on the other that those "who visit the structure will find it impossible to tell, "Where Gaudi's work begins and ends". Surely this is a contradiction - if it is impossible to tell one end from the other, then it is the same, so where is the problem? Why are you arguing? You disappoint me so. I fear you will one day soon awaken to find your life over, the building still unfinished, and you will still be anguishing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Third, know that everyone dies when their life's work is finished, no sooner, no later. Finishing Sagrada Familia was never to be my work, it was always yours. You will have to do it your way.

Accept that this dissent can never be resolved in this manner. Leave aside academic and intellectual notions of 'the purity of vision' of the individual, forget about me, use what little I managed to express, as a doorway to enter into your own awe of creation, discover the joy of the spirit of our Creator flowing through you and build as a natural consequence and expression of that.

You are staring so closely at the finger, you can not see it is pointing at the moon. In the moonlight, all will be right.
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20/08/08 Tom Paxton, Newquay
Whilst i agree with the article that this will not be a true representation of Gaudi's work and that this is merely a tourist attraction. This should be made more aware to the public in order not to tarnish or sully the reputation of the famous Gaudi.
19/08/08 Ronan Bolaos, Barcelona
Gaudi's vision cannot be accomplished in strict terms, since the plans were destroyed during the civil war period, and there is no way of replacing them except by imitating from elsewhere or deducting from Gaudi's annotations. Finishing the building will be quite an achievement, and it will provide with a place of cult for the local inhabitants, which was the original intention after all. Add ups like the Subirach's facade, already generated polemics, since it competes with Gaudi's own facade, while for others, it adds value to the building. Bottom line, this building should be finished as soon as possible in order to avoid building more polemics, and further interventions from a growing number of people, that enlarge the distance with the original project. It won't be a pure Gaudi building, but at least it will be finished and in service for the abiding community. We will keep our fingers crossed for the AVE train intervention, not to lure catastrophic consequences to this centennial construction.
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Controversy brews over Gaudi masterpiece 

The Sagrada Familia is the undisputed masterpiece and life’s work of Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi. It is also a building mired in controversy and just plain bad luck. As the building edges ever closer toward completion, which is estimated to be in the next two decades, another protest has broken out questioning whether anyone is capable of doing justice to the late Master’s vision.

The latest protest comes from a group of influential architects and artists from Spain’s art and heritage world, led by Manuel Borja-Villel, the Director of Madrid’s Reina Sofia art museum. They claim the new work will bear little resemblance to Gaudi’s vision and that the tourists who visit the structure will find it impossible to tell, “Where Gaudi’s work begins and ends”. But measuring up to Gaudi is not easy. A succession of architects has worked on the structure since the architect’s untimely death in 1926. But hampered by Gaudi’s eccentric way of working (the architect did not work from the plans created), a lack of plans which were damaged in the Spanish Civil War, not to mention the idiosyncratic nature of the architecture itself, the job has not been easy.

In a statement that appears on the web site of FAD, the Spanish arts and design institute, the group said: “What stands out is the mediocrity of a group of technicians and developers who are well-meaning but full of an anachronistic paternalism in the best of cases and are once more using Gaudi to leave their personal mark on the building to the detriment of the original work.” Borja-Villel told the Guardian last week: “What they are constructing has little to do with the spirit of Gaudi. It has more to do with building a tourist attraction and for propaganda purposes." Organisers of the protest promise to keep the pressure on the team of designers to remain true to Gaudi’s ideas.

"What is going on is a monumental scandal, but we are not yet asking for a freeze on construction work; we're simply drawing attention to the case”, curator and Gaudi expert Maria De Mar Amus said to the Spanish newspaper El Pais. "We will discuss the issue again in October and examine future initiatives to crank up the pressure”.

The questionable construction work isn’t the only threat to the structure. Concerns for the foundations of the cathedral have been raised after approval was given earlier this year for a high-speed link between Madrid and Barcelona that passes within meters of the structure.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent


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