The future of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia

Like many people, I first went to Barcelona in large part to see the architecture of Antoni Gaudi. His work can seem pure fantasy at first with its wild rooftops and lack of intersecting lines but — as Robert Hughes explains in his magisterial book on the history of the city, “Barcelona” — Gaudi drew his imagery from Catalan folklore, which may explain why the city has embraced rather than rejected an architect whose work is so unusual.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Barcelona since my first visit and though Gaudi’s eternally unfinished church Sagrada Familia is not my favorite of his buildings there is something undeniably captivating about the scale and audacity of it. Gaudi began work on it in 1883 and focused on it obsessively until his death in 1916, though construction has continued for all the decades since. Now (they say) the end is near: 2026, timed for the 100th anniversary of his death. We’ll see if that really happens, but the video of what it will look like is quite amazing.


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