Overview

Through a combination of good luck and timing, a passionate interest in Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) led to an interview in 1979 with two of Gaudí’s octogenarian successors who were directing the small team completing the Sagrada Família church (1882 – ongoing); they had been young apprentice architects during Gaudí’s final years. I was requesting material for my undergraduate thesis and I had two principal questions: where was the authority to complete the building coming from when so little of the building had actually been completed, and much of Gaudí’s design models and all of his drawings destroyed during the Spanish Civil War (1936–9)? And how, precisely, were instructions given to the master masons charged with actually building so complex a construction? Their answer was to point me to boxes and boxes of model fragments with the suggestion that all the secrets lay within. I have been engaged as an architect and design researcher studying these models ever since.

My intimate introduction to Gaudí at the commencement of my career has coloured everything I have done. I hasten to add that this is not a stylistic connection – as if any pretender could succeed with such vainglory. The attribute I discovered in Gaudí’s work that captured me was his multidimensional thinking, evidently one of the principal drivers for all that he accomplished. He wrote nothing at all about his architectural theory in a career spanning 48
years. In order to gain insights into one of the most creative and technically competent architects ever, we have to unravel the mysteries of his work itself, which sets us all a number of significant challenges.

Text taken from: Chapter 5, ‘Dimensions’, Scripting Cultures: Architectural Design and Programming, John Wiley and Sons Ltd, London, 2012

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