One of the most protracted works in progress in Europe is the cathedral of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
The building was the creation of the visionary architect, Antoni Gaudi, whose vivid and unusual designs have left an indelible mark on the city. But Gaudi’s untimely death in 1926 under the wheels of a tram meant that completion of his opus was left to future generations.
That project is finally nearing its conclusion – well, comparatively … it’s about 20 years off now – but it seems not everyone is happy with the work.
More than a hundred figures from Spain’s art and heritage world have signed a manifesto protesting at what they see as a betrayal of Barcelona’s most famous son by those determined to leave their own stamp on the cathedral. They write of ‘the mediocrity of a group of technicians and developers who are well-meaning but full of anachronistic paternalism.’
Among those protesting is the director of Madrid’s Reina Sofia modern art museum, Manual Borja-Villel, who says visitors will not be able to tell where Gaudi’s work begins and ends.
“What they are constructing has little to do with the spirit of Gaudí. It has more to do with building a tourist attraction and for propaganda purposes.”
Architects working on Gaudí’s masterpiece have been plagued with difficulties from the start. The designer refused to stick to a blueprint, preferring to direct a building’s evolution on the ground. The plans that did exist following his death were badly damaged during the Spanish Civil War.
And fears for the foundations of the cathedral have been raised after approval was given earlier this year for a high speed rail link between Madrid and Barcelona that passes within yards of the building.
by Andy Moreton
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