For more than 100 years, Sagrada Familia Basilica has continued to grow, morph, and amaze visitors. The cranes around the structure have, at times, seemed to be part of the church, themselves. Now, though, the basilica plans to further keep up construction by adding a new stair way despite objection by locals.
The church was planned by Antoni Gaudí, one of Catalan’s most iconic architects. Soon after the towers are set to be completed, the construction of a new set of stairs is expected to commence and as of recently, the Board of Construction for Sagrada Familia crossed one of the many hurdles in the process to do so. This specific hurdle is in relation to the 6,000-square-foot area pegged by the Board to become the site of the new staircase. Those in opposition to the area in which the staircase will be, though, are angered by the number of people the construction would affect and displace.
This most recent step in the process came after an outcry in September of locals who argue that the continued construction will impact around 3,000 people in the area. Additionally, naysayers argue that the building no longer reflects what Gaudí originally had in mind – some believe that it’s not even half of what the architect planned. However, Catalonia’s Superior Court of Justice since ruled in favour of the Sagrada Familia’s board following testimony from president of the Temple Building Board, Esteve Camps that stated the stairs were in fact part of Gaudí’s 1916 plans for the basilica.
Sagrada Familia is one of the most unique buildings in the world thanks to its intricate detail and style that span decades of architectural movements. Though unusual, it fits in characteristically with Gaudí’s personal flair as an architect. The still in-progress building was first begun in 1882 after years of campaigning on behalf of the Spiritual Associate of the Devotees of St Joseph. After construction of the crypt began, a disagreement led to Gaudí replacing Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano as the sole architect. It was 1883 when Gaudí took over and in the early 1900s, the project became the centre of his work. In 1923, he finalized his plans and construction began on one of the bell towers. However, Gaudí never saw much of the basilica completed. In 1926, Gaudí passed away. Though he left his designs for the building with his workshop, they were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War leaving subsequent architects to guess at what his intentions would have been. Thus, we will never know what Gaudí truly envisioned.
Unsurprisingly, this is not one of the first hiccups the project has seen as it has grown and grown over the last century. In 1953, some of the world’s most known architects, including Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Walter Gropius, chimed in by means of a manifesto stating that further construction betrayed Gaudí’s vision. Other hiccups have included financial woes. Over the last century, construction has relayed on donations and tourism to continue. While it is a major attraction for Barcelona bringing in millions of euros (36 million according to Janet Sanz, deputy mayor of Urban Planning for the city) thanks to tourism each year, the basilica’s construction is more than $41 million in debt as it stands now due to permit violations.
The stairs have not received carte blanche approval and there are still more hoops before construction can continue, but if they are agreed upon, the steps will be part of an expansion that could easily push back the current 2026 deadline.
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