Antoni Gaudí and the post digital material age 

Mark Burry| 22.03.2010

Efforts to complete Gaudí’s magnum opus, the Sagrada Família Church in Barcelona , continue unabated 127 years after the project commenced and, more crucially, 83 years after the architect’s death in 1926.  In this time we have seen his highly original 3D design approach become increasingly more digital, with the same impact being felt in the various modes of production on site: the actual building fabric as much as the design prototypes of varying scales up to  and including 1:1. With the introduction of digital technology in 1989 the project completion date has moved dramatically forward – the interior will be substantially complete in 2010.  The last two decades has seen the project transform from an anachronism to state-of-the-art application of digital technologies to both the design and building processes.  What cost has this been to Gaudí’s original working practice?

This lecture will reveal the implications for Gaudí’s successors who have been gifted with a project so demanding it acts an exemplar of contemporary best practice, not least to the 2.5 million visitors annually who witness the construction of church around and over their heads as they move round the interior and exterior of the project.


Mark Burry

Professor Mark Burry has published internationally on two main themes: the life and work of the architect Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, and putting theory into practice with regard to ‘challenging’ architecture; he has also published widely on broader issues of design, construction and the use of computers in design theory and practice.  As consultant architect to the Temple Sagrada Família since 1979, Mark Burry has been a key member within the local design team based on site in Barcelona, untangling the mysteries of Gaudí’s compositional strategies for his greatest work, especially those coming from his later years, the implications of which are only now becoming fully apparent as they are resolved for building purposes. Professor Burry is the Founding Director of RMIT University’s new research initiative, the Design Research Institute that was inaugurated in March 2008. The Institute facilitates User led design leading to new understandings, innovative products and enhanced performance and well-being. The research program responds to focussed scenarios that cross RMIT disciplines from aeronautical engineering to fashion and from landscape architecture to applied communications.