The great sea monster of Barcelona

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Like a coral encrusted leviathan beached upon a suburban street scape Gaudi’s final masterpiece sprawls unfinished across the city

Sagrada Familia is the most amazing combination of exuberant excess, vision and fevered attention to detail. The whole has the fluid organic recursive detail of a coral reef. And I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed but there’s definitely some hentai action at the top of the spires. The fabric is covered encrusted with religious icons, imagery and symbols, when your canvas is the fabric of a cathedral I guess there’s room for everything. Then there’s the numerology, courtesy of Abraham ben Meir ibn Ezra.

There are no flat surfaces within, the columns lift and separate like branches, their surfaces changing from square, to octagon then hexadecagon and finally circular. Fantastic, in all senses of the word, look up into the vault and the petrified forest gives way to the feeling that you’re looking at the spines and pores of some great sea creature. Then you walk out the other side and are treated to the facade of the nativity. Gaudi played the politics of construction cleverly, finishing this one first got people invested.If he’d led of with the austere passion facade with all it’s angular chiaroscuro, perhaps they’d be less keen to finish the work. If you look carefully you can see that the towers are decorated with words. Just Gaudi turning the concept of the gothic church on it’s head again.

On a slightly more human scale there’s also the site offices, which received Gaudi’s usual treatment. As an engineer the best part of the tour was walking through Gaudi’s office, looking at the drawings, models and sketches, wondering at how the codex of Gaudi’s grand work could be expressed just using wood, paper, ink and plaster. Look ma, no computers.

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