You are on page 1of 7

2010

La Sagrada Familia Critique by Eugne Viollet-Le Duc


Critique by Eugne Viollet-Le Duc
This critique explores the design of Antonio Gauds La Sangrada Familia located in Barcelona, Spain from the point of view of the French architect, Eugne Viollet-Le Duc.

Nicole Trujillo ART H 202 4/10/2010

La Sagrada Familia

Critique by Eugne Viollet-Le Duc

As a well-respected architect and theorist in France, most of my well known projects include restorations of medieval buildings. I am a strong proponent of restoration in the sense of creating something that never actually existed in the past. I have always said, that restoration is a means to reestablish [a building] to a finished state, which may in fact never have actually existed at any given time (Wikipedia.com). In addition, I have been a central figure in the Gothic Revival in France and have been an advocate for the honesty in architectural form and medium. I believe that climate, habits, nature of materials, and the way they impact a building varies by each circumstance. Therefore, I do not believe that there is an absolute rule in a building. The only basis for prescribing design procedure must be in the form of method (Viollet-le-Duc 142). My architectural theory is based on the ideal forms for specific materials, and using these forms to create buildings. A well constructed building is a result from finding the ideal forms for specific materials. I specifically would apply lessons I had learned from Gothic architecture by applying rational structural systems to modern materials, such as iron. A concert hall which I had designed in 1864 expressed Gothic principles, yet I used modern materials such as brick, stone, and cast iron in the construction. Furthermore, I am a proponent of organic structures and natural ornamentation. My interest in the rationality of the wings of bats influenced my Assembly Hall project. Also, I believe that the outside of any building should reflect the rational construction of the building. In Entretiens sur larchitecture, I praised the Greek Temple for its rational representation of its construction. In several unbuilt projects, I applied the lessons which I derived from Gothic architecture, applying rational structural systems to modern building materials such as cast iron. I also have looked at organic structures such as leaves for inspiration. When I restore buildings, I am not so much at accurately recreating a historical

Nicole Trujillo

Page 1

La Sagrada Familia

Critique by Eugne Viollet-Le Duc

situation as at creating a perfect building of medieval style to restore an edifice. In my book, Dictionnaire raisonn, is not to maintain it, repair or rebuild it, but to reestablish it in a complete state that may never have existed at a particular moment. The Catalan architect Antoni Gaud was strongly influenced by the Gothic architecture revival of my work. Therefore, it is my intention to critique his most infamous creation, La Sagrada Familia. The cathedral located near the centre of Barcelona, continues with ongoing efforts for its completion for the past 125 years. The project began in 1866. When Gaud was first appointed to the project, it began as a typical Gothic Revival parish church and evolved into one of more cathedral-like proportions. The project moved from literal Gothic antecedents to something more characteristically Gaudianian. Gaud preferred to give his projects the opportunities to push architecture as a cultural expression with the constraints of classical and medieval styles. Through the work of La Sagrada Familia, Gaud expressed his ideas on Gothic architecture, which he considered the most structural style in history. In my opinion, Gaud clearly understood the defects of Gothic architecture, manifested in the use of large vault keystones and heavy flying buttresses, defects which he overcame by using catenary arches and inclined columns (Burr 71). It is obvious that he clearly appreciated the wisdom of the Gothic Stonemasons who were able to construct large structures based on their intuition and experience. Gaudnian geometry was implemented in La Sagada Familia. In order to avoid the traditional Gothic issue by using exterior structural elements to achieve high verticality in churches, Gaud applied the principle of fractality similar to that of a tree. Trees in the Sagrada Familia carry the entire accumulative load from the upper vaults and towers distributed in fine ratios. In addition, Gaud used a hanging scale models of load distributions (funiculars) and elementary graphic methods in order to determine by symmetry the final

Nicole Trujillo

Page 2

La Sagrada Familia

Critique by Eugne Viollet-Le Duc

structure to be built. I am also very impressed by Gauds use of a shape in many different scales is very impressive. The hyperbolic paraboloids in the vaults of the Sagrada Familia reappear as very small pieces of the ruled surface at the very bases of the columns. Geometry was thus a design tool to Gaud. Gaud also associated geometrical shapes with metaphors. Having a personal preference of organic shapes such as leaves and animal skeletons, I admire Gauds complex generation of new forms. He generated non-classical shapes such as rounding forms using parabolas, circles, or sinusoidal profiles, twinning, intersecting or removing bodies. He did not use the ployhedra in the usual way because he produced a new form on the finials to the towers of the Sagrada Familia by intersecting regular polyhedral and spheres. It is also important to note that Gaud used the association of geometrical shapes with metaphors. Shapes imitated natural forms such as trees, palms, fruits, etc. were more sophisticated relative to the preferences of the owner of the building. Along with the organic use of form, I am a proponent of the idea that materials should be used for a specific form to create buildings. In the completion work of the Sagrada Familia, cement has been implemented as both a concrete and an artificial stone. However, during the time when Gaud worked on the project, the building was constructed with ashlar masonry exteriors which were properly sealed and conceal a core of coursed rubble. The concrete columns are a great beauty and feat. In conclusion, Gaud efforts of the Gothic Revival executed an organic and cohesive structure. Most importantly his use of specific materials for organic, complex, geometrical forms validates Gauds appreciation for innovation and yet a sophistication for gothic architecture.

Nicole Trujillo

Page 3

La Sagrada Familia
APPENDIX A

Critique by Eugne Viollet-Le Duc

Figure 1.

Nicole Trujillo

Page 4

La Sagrada Familia
APPENDIX B

Critique by Eugne Viollet-Le Duc

Nicole Trujillo

Page 5

La Sagrada Familia
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Critique by Eugne Viollet-Le Duc

Burry, Mark. Expiatory Church of the Sangrada Familia. London: Phiadon Press Limited, 1993. Burry, Mark. Gaudi Unseen Completing the Sangrada Familia. Berlin: jovis Verlag GmbH, 2007. Carandell, Josep Maria. The Temple of the Sangrada Familia. San Llus: Triangle Postals S.L., 2004. Eugne Viollet-Le-Duc. April 7 2010. 8 April 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne_Viollet-le_Duc>. Glass, Christopher. "Leonardo's Successors." Nexus Network Journal 10.1 (2008): 129-148. Reiff, Daniel D. "Viollet le Duc and Historic Restoration: The West Portals of Notre-Dame." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 30.1 (1971): 17-30. Viollet-le-Duc, Eugne-Emmanuel. The Architectural Theory of Viollet-le-Duc. Ed. M.F. Hearn. United States of America: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1990.

Nicole Trujillo

Page 6