Mark Burry Maintains Epic Work on the Sagrada Família

Executive architect of the Sagrada Família New Zealander Mark Burry has been able to complete Gaudí’s designs by devising parametric computer modelling techniques, adapted from the aerospace industry. Burry has even sped up the construction process by having stones cut by computer-driven machinery.

What Burry and his associates in Barcelona find so very humbling is that Gaudí was able to work out such complex three-dimensional mathematical models in his mind’s-eye, using intuition alone.

A leading light in spatial design and computer programming at Melbourne’s RMIT University, Christchurch-born Burry came to Barcelona in 1980 as a 23-year-old. Initially, trying to piece the fragments of Gaudí’s remaining architectural models of the Sagrada Família together, he was unable to make sense of their unfamiliar and demanding geometry until the peseta dropped and he understood that it was in the rock formations of mountains, among other natural phenomena, that Gaudí’s exceptional mathematical imagination had been rooted.

“Most of us on the project are using software which is not the first choice for architects, but it’s actually of a richness that can deal with the complexity of the building. So that the last 20 years have been characterised by digital design and before that it was all models made by hand and drawings,” Burry told a RMIT University news team earlier this year.

“The way we use the computer today is much closer to the way that Gaudí modelled in plaster of Paris than the drawing process.”

When the final stone is set in place, the Sagrada Família will be the world’s tallest church, soaring 170m above the Catalan capital; the basilica will boast no fewer than eighteen spires – eight have been built so far.

Original article by Jonathan Glancey, BBC, October 14, 2014.

Tags: Barcelona  BBC  BBC News  Gaudí  Mark Burry  parametric computer modelling techniques  RMIT University  Sagrada Família