The Sagrada Familia is a vast and ambitious architectural project in Barcelona, Spain. It has been under construction for over a century by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, and its estimated completion date of 2028 is drawing closer. However, despite recent advancements, answers to the question of when the building will eventually be finished remain uncertain.
Projects of this scale usually require input from many stakeholders: historical experts, private funders, construction companies and so on. In the case of the Sagrada Familia, detailed plans have been drawn up but the church has gone through several transitions of ownership and leadership – all of which have impacted the progress of the construction. Not to mention the tragedy of Gaudi passing away in 1926 before he could see his project come to completion.
The current governing body, the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, have taken a conservative approach to completing the project. They’re responding to anticipated problems by taking precautionary steps that fewer would. Smaller updates, such as the installation of stained glass windows or refurbishment of ornaments on the façade, are prioritised before bigger construction tasks.
Furthermore, conservationists’ concerns about the building’s durability is a major factor in the slow process. To remain under UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the construction must heed expert advice and be conducted using historically accurate processes, meaning that modern materials or methods of construction are discouraged.
With these limitations, the completion date of 2028 has been widely speculated in the media. In the same year of Gaudi’s death, a construction plan was outlined that predicted the church to be finished in 2026 – thirty years later. But on closer inspection, the plan was amended depending on circumstances at the time, and it’s become evident that this timeline has not been followed.
As a result, no one can say with certainty when the building will be done. Nonetheless, the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família has taken a mature approach and committed to find a balance between the cultural requirements and architectural objectives of the project. Seeing it through to the end, no matter how long it will take, will be a momentous achievement for all those who have been involved.
The 19th century architect Gaudí left a lasting impression on the Sagrada Familia. Having grown up in a deeply Catholic family, it’s not surprising that Gaudi infused the project with strong religious symbolism. Everywhere within the church you will find artistic sequences alluding to important events within the Bible, to liturgical rituals and faith-inspired revelations.
The scale of the building, for instance, is referential to the 12 apostles, occupying twelve groups across the nativities, to reference the 12 tribes of Israel in the Old Testament. Elsewhere, the eighteen towers symbolise the twelve apostles, four evangelists and Our Lady and Baby Jesus. Gaudi simply wanted to show his respect for Christian tradition.
There are also symbols of the three Abrahamic faiths, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, placed strategically around the church. Crescents are carved alongside triangles and five-pointed stars, in adoration to both Allah and God of the Bible. In other places, the tree of life can be seen, depicting Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
Gaudi’s passion for religion and mysticism is evident everywhere in the Sagrada Familia and has certainly contributed to the time it has taken to complete the church. From the snail-pace of assiduous historical conservation to the complicated symbols that have to be sculpted into every crevice of the building, the project demands a tremendous level of detail.
Statue of Liberty of Barcelona
The Sagrada Familia is one of the most iconic landmarks in Barcelona, easily the most photographed of its sights. Considered the Statue of Liberty of the city, the church has come to symbolise the city’s rich history, culture and identity.
For locals, the sight of the building is filled with a sense of pride and nostalgia. It links them to their past and gives a sense of continuity to the city, providing a backdrop for modern social traditions. From its captivating silhouette to the fascinating stories behind its construction, the building has touched the lives of many in Barcelona.
It’s no wonder then that the issue of its completion sparks such interest. Not a single day goes by in Barcelona without people asking: “When is Sagrada Familia going to be finished?” The expectation that 2028 will end this ambitious revolution of stone will no doubt bring many locals a great sense of joy.
But for tourists, the wait for the building to be finished has provided them with a taste of searching for something that seems so close, yet still out of reach. Even with the building far from finished, visitors from all over the world have been attracted to the enigmatic and evocative architecture of Sagrada Familia.
Gaudi’s most recognisable masterpiece, the church of Sagrada Familia, is a stunning testimony to his innovative structural designs. With its distinctive onion-shaped domes, breathtaking characteristics and creative designs, the church speaks to the architectural brilliance of Gaudi himself.
What makes the Sagrada Familia unique is Gaudi’s use of colourful stained glass and detailed ornamentations. He took the gargoyles found on Gothic churches and enhanced them with his own style and highly expressive figures. From the overall shape of the building to the geometry of the towers and stained glass – every detail has been lovingly designed by the master himself.
Moreover, the Sagrada Familia enjoys an interesting structural system. Despite its intricate ornaments and detailed design, the building remains composedly stable, something Gaudi credited to his ‘hypergeometric’ choice of materials and innovative combinations, like red brick and undulating stone that contradict each other in both shape and purpose.
This kind of ingenuity makes the Sagrada Familia a modern architectural marvel. Efforts to successfully complete a project of this complexity has been slow but rewarding, with experts across the board often in awe of the beauty of the masterpiece.
Cash Flow Issues
One of the greatest hindrances in the completion of the Sagrada Familia has been the money. Although Gaudi didn’t live to see its completion, he was able to establish a financial basis for future renditions. He tried to raise money through networks of rich and passionate barcelonians, but he was unsuccessful.
After his death, the new owners of the Sagrada Familia were unable to keep pace with the massive costs of maintenance and restoration, until the government declared the church a public property in 1931. This announcement changed the lives of generations of the locals, who had until then seen the project as nothing more than a distant dream.
The sudden public attention towards the project, however, did nothing to reduce the expenses. Donations and ticket sales, of course, have helped, but the cash flow has rarely been steady. Most of the money goes towards basic upkeep of the building and wages for expert workers, both of which are essential for the churches operations. Time and again, the project has found itself in a financial fix, with local community initiatives helping keep things afloat.
During the current pandemic, too, the Church has taken the brunt of the economic pressures. Keeping with the deep-rooted Barcelonian traditions, the project has been struggling to stay afloat, barely managing to sustain current operations without taking on further ones.
The Sagrada Familia is far more than a tourist spot. When completed, the building will become Barcelona’s major place of worship, completely redefining the city’s skyline.
Urban planners have been looking into ways to carve out public vicinity around the building that would be convenient for regular visitors. No doubt, their success will make the grandeur of the church built more accessible to its citizens. The official website of the church also speaks of a ‘pedestrian corridor’ and an adjoining public garden on completion.
The project has also around inspired several other local projects, including the requirement for modernizing utilities like sewage systems and waterlines that predate Gaudi’s work. As the work on the church carries on, less glamorous yet critical developments that will boost Barcelona’s urban image are also gradually being considered.
So when will the church be complete? Until the very end, the answer remains uncertain. For many however, there is contentment in the process of constructing something so complex with the attention to detail of its creator. In a way, that too is a testament of Gaudi’s vision and Barcelona’s spirit.
The complexities of the Sagrada Familia have necessitated a diverse range of construction techniques. From modern mechanism developments to the use of outdated processes, managing a project of this magnitude has been an engineering feat.
Replacing the older techniques has been difficult due to the need to maintain structural integrity. As a result, techniques such as manual digging to make tunnels have been applied to facilitate minimal machinery use. Another example is the use of renewable timber materials, rather than cement columns, to support the towers.
Furthermore, to keep up with the demands of the project, 3D-mapping technologies have been used to create detailed diagrams that indicate how the church should look. Additionally, implementation of chemical mechanical elements to ward off potential harm from the interior structures has been implemented.
Even with modern processes, the main challenge for the church is in training workers. With historical designs and artefacts of immense importance, the most experienced and talented personnel must be employed to get the job done with minimal errors.
For this purpose, the government has taken extra steps to form training partnerships with technical schools and industry professionals to ensure the preservation of a national legendary project that Gaudí began.
The project is not only of cultural importance, but environmental relevance too. To remain celestially compliant, several environmental conservation processes have been implemented. This includes seeking ways to reduce the contribution to carbon dioxide emissions, especially during construction.
Awareness campaigns have been held to share the importance of safeguarding the project’s surroundings. Boats and shuttles have been implemented to minimize environmental impact when taking visitors around the main building. To reduce noise pollution in the area, the authorities are also looking for ways to adapt the use of electric vehicles within the region.
In addition, the local government authority has been proactive in finding new ways to uphold existing natural ecosystems within the area. Flora and fauna diversity and integration activities are often held to promote new species to the city. The plans also involve ways to educate the Barcelonians about the importance of biochemistry in their daily lives.
Efforts to limit the impact of the project on the environment have also resulted in several of Gaudi’s works being named a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. As of now, various agencies remain in collaboration with environmental agencies to ensure the preservation of the remaining natural landscape surrounding the iconic building.