The construction of the Basílica de la Sagrada Família, a Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, commenced in 1882, yet the building project remains incomplete. How is it possible that, despite decades of labor, the construction of a single building would take so long? This article will investigate why the Sagrada Família is taking so long, exploring the history and complexities of the project and the architecture of the final building.
The project was first proposed by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. Drawing inspiration from Spanish gothic architecture, the building would consist of eighteen towers reaching heights of up to 92 meters and eight façades. Due to its grand vision and intricate details, the project was seen as an ambitious venture, as such it was expected to take a very long time to complete. After a few initial years of construction, the project was put on hold when the death of the architect was followed by Spain’s financial crisis in 1883.
Despite its lengthy gestation, the Sagrada Família continued to attract numerous leading architects of the region. The project’s reputation and scale enticed the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, who returned the project to life from 1883-1926. Gaudi’s architectural knowledge and creative imagination drove the project far beyond its original conception, making it one of the most unique structures in the world. Since his passing in 1926, the project was directed by numerous architects and organizations, each making their own additions and modifications to Gaudi’s original plans.
Innovative technology and materials have been used in the construction of the church, allowing the structure to reach its immense heights. Steel and iron frames, along with reinforced concrete have been used extensively to build both the foundation and the inner structure of the towers. With the addition of modern construction technologies, the team has been able to shorten the construction time of some parts. Thanks to this, the central nave has more than doubled since Gaudi’s time.
The dedication of the project has not just been limited to its builders but is also shared by the wider Barcelona community. Crowdfunding schemes have allowed local citizens to contribute to the development of the Família and feel connected to the project. Additionally, other sources of funding from organizations, institutions, and wealthy individuals have been used to ensure the successful completion of the project. Over the course of the last few years, the project has benefited from increased publicity, attracting those fascinated by the architecture and eager to contribute.
All these elements — Gaudi’s exceptional design, innovative construction techniques, and the continuous dedication of local citizens and institutions — are fundamental to understanding why the construction of the Sagrada Familia has taken and is still taking so long. The next question is, when will it finally be complete?
Factors impeding construction
The most significant factor impeding the completion of the construction of the Sagrada Família is very simply the sheer size and intricate design of the project. Gaudi’s design was extremely detailed and as such, a considerable amount of time is needed to carry out the work successfully. The building has a complex structure that requires a high level of engineering skill and technical know-how in order to be completed.
The second impediment is a financial one. According to a recently released report, the unplanned costs of the project have exceeded the initial estimates. It is estimated that around €200 million remain for completion, and this amount is beyond the current estimated budget. This means that the committee overseeing the project must rely on fundraising from organizations, institutions, and individuals to supplement the money coming from the state government.
Another huge factor that hinders construction is the political instability in the country. While the project is a national one, it receives assistance from the local state government. However, due to the frequent changes in administration, the project’s progress has been hampered, as the new government often tends to have its own agenda and priorities. This means that there is no clarity on when the project is likely to be completed, as there is no fixed timeline.
The Sagrada Família is an iconic example of Catalan modernism and is recognized as a symbol of the region’s culture and identity. The project has been in the works for well over 130 years, with each generation contributing its own unique ideas and visions. As such, it has come to symbolize Barcelona’s resilient spirit, as the city has withstood numerous civil wars, economic crises, and political upheavals over the years.
Gaudi’s vision is also reflected in the building’s design. Every detail has its own story, with a mosaic of glass, iron, and stone used to form intricate designs. This makes the building aesthetically pleasing and visually appealing. As the building is a testament to the city’s history and culture, millions of people have chosen to make the pilgrimage to Barcelona in order to view the Sagrada Família.
Since its inception, the project has also been a source of inspiration for generations of architects, engineers, and designers. Its unique design and impressive scale has meant that the building has been featured in numerous books and articles, as well as in several films. The ambition and passion of those responsible for the project has also inspired many people to take on their own challenging building projects.
In recent years, the project has seen renewed interest from professionals in the industry, as well as from ordinary citizens who want to contribute to its completion. Many people have raised funds and invested their own time and efforts into the project, in order to ensure it is completed as soon as possible. The project has also seen the involvement of some of the leading names in architecture, including Andres Jaque and Norman Foster, who have designed various modern elements for the building.
Some of the more notable contributions to the project include a donation of €6 million by a renowned entrepreneur, as well as financial and technical assistance from the European Commission in formulating a plan to meet the estimated budget. In addition, a large international fundraising campaign was initiated in 2018, which resulted in the collection of over €8 million by the end of the year.
These modern contributions have accelerated the project, with the team now on track to complete the building in the next 20 years or so. All these contributions and initiatives show how the people of Barcelona have come together in order to ensure the completion of their grandest building project.
Another pivotal factor in the long gestation period of the Sagrada Família is Gaudi’s unique design vision. Receiving inspiration from nature, Gaudi’s design featured curved lines and intricate details that could only be achieved through immense amounts of manpower and knowledge. This design was heavily inspired by flora and fauna, and was also influenced by a number of different cultures, most notably that of the Islamic world.
Gaudi’s design also incorporated the basic ideals of Roman Catholicism. For instance, the interior of the church is divided into three naves to symbolize the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). The building’s shape was also designed to mirror the silhouette of Montserrat, which is considered to be one of the holiest sites in Catalonia.
These intricate design elements, combined with Gaudi’s own use of organic shapes and curves, has meant that the building is unparalleled in both its visual beauty and technical prowess. As such, the completion of the building has taken the full commitment of craftsmen, engineers, and architects who have all worked diligently to ensure that the structure reaches its full potential.
Finally, the long period of construction for the Basílica de la Sagrada Família has resulted in numerous social benefits. The project has generated hundreds of jobs and allowed people to acquire skills and knowledge in the various disciplines related to architecture. Additionally, the revenue generated from the project has been used to fund education and health care in the region.
The Família’s rise to prominence has also turned it into one of the top tourist attractions in Barcelona. The building draws in thousands of visitors every year, who come to experience its grandiose beauty and witness its ongoing evolution. This influx of people has had a positive impact on the local economy, as these visitors contribute to the city’s finances by spending money on hotels, restaurants, tours, and souvenirs.
Lastly, the building’s completion will act as a symbol of hope and resilience in the face of trials and tribulations, reflecting the steadfast nature of the people of Barcelona in their pursuit of artistic excellence.