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THE INDOOR STONE “FOREST” AT BARCELONA’S SAGRADA FAMILIA

THE INDOOR STONE “FOREST” AT BARCELONA’S SAGRADA FAMILIA

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IF THERE’S AN interior that qualifies as one of the most extraordinary on the planet, then the nave of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia would figure somewhere near the very top. the generalist was fortunate enough to visit just recently and we were awestruck by the space’s scale, detail, engineering and the quality of the light that finds it way down and through the soaring stone columns and tendrils that holds up its roof.

Completed in 2010 and consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI that November — this cavernous indoor “forest” with its monumental supporting stonework appearing to have grown rather than have been built — is the main interior space in an as-yet unfinished building that’s taken 132 years thus far to construct.

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Designed by the great Catalonian architect Antoni Gaudi, the Sagrada Familia is Barcelona’s Basilica (the city already has a Cathedral) and it was Gaudi’s crowning architectural obsession right up until his death in 1926 — when he was run over by a tram.

Irish novelist Colm Toibin has lived in the city on and off for many years and in his biography of the city, Homage to Barcelona, he says that the building was designed by Gaudi to be “a church more than double the size of Saint Mark’s in Venice, sixty-five feet higher than Saint Peter’s in Rome … It was designed to hold 13,000 people. It was, he said, to be a pauper’s Bible, it would tell the whole story in stone.”

At the time of Gaudi’s death the structure was only around a quarter built and the word is they’re hoping to finish it for the centenary of his passing in 2026.  You can take a virtual visit of the space here.

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As for the total structure itself — which is now apparently being built swifter than it ever has been before thanks to modern building techniques and 3D modelling — here’s how it will eventually look.

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GUY ALLENBY

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Guy is a past design editor of Belle Magazine and was a feature writer and section editor at the Sydney Morning Herald for a number of years. His work has also been published in The Australian newspaper plus a host of magazines internationally. He is the author of a couple of architecture books and a best-selling biography of mind-body medical pioneer Ian Gawler entitled "The Dragon's Blessing". He is the editor of the generalist.

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