Last night Foreign Correspondent ran an excellent story on the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and the kiwi architect Mark Burry, who’s made it his life’s work to complete the Spanish architect’s vision. The self-effacing Burry works out of an office at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, where he’s adapted aeronautical software for the first time in architecture to help transform Antoni Gaudí’s creative line drawings into solid bricks and mortar.
Gaudí’s drawings for the building resemble an elaborate sand drip castle — it’s no wonder his 30-storey cathedral, which will eventually be big enough for a congregation of fifteen thousand people, couldn’t be completed in his lifetime. The entire plans were in his head, and died with him.
Burry, who says that without question Gaudí was a genius, has been working on the building for twenty-five years. He visits Barcelona only four times a year, but oversees the construction full time from Melbourne via computer modelling.
And he has a deadline — in 1926 after Gaudí died, his successors predicted it would take ten years to finish the job. Now Burry has to have it done by 2007, in time for the 125th anniversary of the first stone being laid.