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Sagrada Familia Barcelona NZ architect Mark Burry

Sagrada Familia finish date with help by Kiwi architect Mark Burry

The Sagrada Familia finish date in Barcelona is set to be completed in 2026, according to a new announcement. This will mark 144 years since the laying of its first stone. The president of the organization responsible for finishing Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece revealed this date last Wednesday, coinciding with the centenary of the architect’s death.

Esteve Camps stated that they have the necessary funds and materials to complete the construction. This includes the 172.5-metre central tower dedicated to Jesus Christ, making the Sagrada Familia the tallest building in Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia NZ architect Mark Burry

While the overall completion target is 2026, work on sculptures, decorative elements, and notably, the controversial stairway leading to the main entrance, is expected to continue until 2034.

Construction began in 1882 on what was then open farmland. Over the years, the city has grown around the church, and the stairway’s construction across two large city blocks would necessitate relocating about 1,000 families and businesses.

Though some Gaudí scholars contest this, Camps asserts that the stairway was always part of the architect’s vision. “We are faithfully following Gaudí’s plan,” he said. “We are his successors and cannot abandon his vision. The plan, submitted to the local authorities in 1915 and signed by Gaudí, includes the stairway.” He mentioned ongoing discussions with Barcelona’s mayor, Jaume Collboni, as the local authority has the final say. “I cannot predict when they will reach a decision,” he added.

Throughout its history, the Sagrada Familia has faced challenges such as war, neglect, and financial constraints. The recent Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a two-year pause in construction.

Originally, funding was to come solely from donations, mainly from repentant sinners, which made finances uncertain. Many doubted the project would ever be completed. Poet Joan Maragall described the basilica as “the poetry of architecture… a temple that will never be finished, that is constantly evolving.”

Sagrada Familia NZ architect Mark Burry above

Tourism has since become a reliable source of income, with nearly 5 million visitors annually paying €25-40 (£20-£32) per visit. About half of the €125 million generated goes toward completing the construction. The allocation of the remaining funds remains undisclosed, as the church is not required to publish its financial records.

During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, anarchists set fire to the crypt and destroyed Gaudí’s workshop along with the plaster models he created for future builders. Architect Lluís Bonet i Garí salvaged the fragments, and Gaudí’s models were painstakingly reconstructed. New Zealand architect Mark Burry later used aeronautical software to resolve many technical aspects of Gaudí’s design.

The Sagrada Familia is now hailed as one of the marvels of modern architecture, but this wasn’t always the consensus. Salvador Dalí described its beauty as “terrifying and edible,” while George Orwell famously deemed it “one of the most hideous buildings in the world,” suggesting the anarchists missed an opportunity by not demolishing it when they could have.

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