February 17, 2023

Sagrada Familia Gloria Façade


A quick mashup in Sketchup to illustrate what I regard as the only reasonable solution to the problem of the Sagrada Familia's Gloria entrance problem in Barcelona. I was prompted by a recent ArtNet article:
The Sagrada Familia Will Finally Be Completed in 2026. The Last Challenge? Demolishing the Homes of Some 3,000 Local Residents
A local group has filed a lawsuit arguing that the entrance staircase that would evict them was never in Gaudí's original plans.

Leave it to an architect to design one of the Wonders of the World, depleting treasuries and imperiously elbowing neighbors along the way. Lots of pain... but what a wonder the Sagrada Familia is. All superlatives wither in the task of describing a place so incomparable. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, no less. So Gaudi designed a principal entrance that was meant to spill out onto an adjoining city block. And it's not any city block, but one of the Plan Cerdà, the magnificent and incomparable urban design solution of Barcelona's Eixample. Pitted against this august monument are simply three thousand inhabitants whose innocent mistake was to listen to the bureaucrats who had permitted their life there.

Illustrated rudely above is the obvious solution that would satisfy both parties, a renovation of the city block such that the residents and shop keepers could stay while giving the space for the church/basilica to breathe properly. It's just a massing scheme done in as few keystrokes as possible, don't take the form too seriously.

The wrinkle is an encroachment on the intentions of the Cerdà plan's building height and density limitations. To rebuild in a way that cleared out space while rehousing the existing inhabitants, it would have to be fueled by an additional amount of real estate that could pay for it. This means tower blocks, tall enough to do the job in additional occupancy but smaller than the Sagrada Familia itself. If the towers could form a kind of amphitheater framing the space and step back from the street wall, better. The apartments with the view could pay for the whole thing... maybe.

Well, let's see what will happen. As it is, someone in this story will have to break. It would be terrible for the city to say "sucks to be you" to the locals who had invested their lives there. A compromise where everyone wins is tough, but it's worth the try.

Postscript (March 18, 2023):
Artnet's Jo Lawson-Tancred followed up with an update: We Spoke to the 'Anguished' Barcelona Residents Fighting to Prevent the Completion of Gaudí's Famed Sagrada Familia

I'm grateful that JLT / Artnet is maintaining attention on this topic. The drama here drives deep into civilization, agents encroaching onto each other's space for time immemorial. Are we a rational enough species, peace loving enough to find mutually acceptable solutions?

Hinted in the headline's subheading and delivered in the final paragraphs: there exists an alternative plan authored by the residents (Association of Neighbors), and it's disappointing that the various actors in this dispute -especially the city of Barcelona- have deemed it necessary to conceal these plans. It's great to be informed about the nature of the political landscape that frames the dispute, very interesting.

There was a line in particular that stood out, though:

Desperate residents are clinging to hope that they can save their homes by arguing that the elaborate Glory facade was not even part of Gaudí's original plans. Their argument, which has formed the basis for a lawsuit filed against the city council, hinges on the fact that a fire destroyed the architect's original papers. Gaudí's intentions have been pieced together and inferred from surviving photos, preliminary sketches and the claims of his assistants, and the Glory facade's staircase is one of the more contentious elements of this reconstruction.,
(Emphasis, mine.)

What a great example of passive voice construction. A fire was the destructive instrument wielded by an anarchist militia during the Spanish Civil War. So, there's that.

Posted by Dennis at February 17, 2023 2:13 PM

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