Basilica de la Sagrada Família: Passion Facade


Building the west facade of the Sagrada Família basilica

The west facade of the Sagrada Família basilica, facing the setting sun is dedicated to the passion of Christ and depicting the crucifixion and the events leading to it and rising again on the third day. Above the portal formed by four huge columns and porch over the crucifixion scene there is a second colonnade of bone like columns and hexagonal prisms supporting a giant stepping pediment.


Ortho-corrected image of the site for the colonnade with three full scale CNC milled foam prototype columns located on site (photo Mark Burry – copyright protected)

The evidence for Gaudí’s geometrical, material and expressive intentions for the design and of this colonnade had to be reverse engineered from a single surviving 1917 photograph of a lost drawing of this elevation with deep shadows and dramatic rendering.


At a technical level this project has sponsored research into more complex and hybrid applications of parametric modelling and building information modelling in order to resolve the many competing geometrical, aesthetic and technical factors determining the built design. In the lifetime of the project, advances in multi-axis robot stone cutting have also shaped the possibilities in terms of the size and complexity of the individual stone components and even the way the stone is extracted from the quarry.

Robot stone cutting

Credits: SIAL: Design Research: Jane Burry, Mark Burry; Sagrada Technical office: Director Jordi Fauli, former Director Jordi Bonet, executive architect: Xisco Llabrés, stone specialist: Toni Caminal; Quarry: Granit Barbany, Jordi Barbany and team.

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