SO.8 – Elective Seminar
Tutor: Mark Burry
Assistant: Rodrigo Aguirre

Learning from his design for the unfinished Colònia Güell chapel (1898-1914 +/-) Antoni Gaudí wanted the structure for the Sagrada Família Basilica (1882 – ongoing) to be ‘equilibrated’, and calculated accordingly. By equilibrated we mean that the gravity forces for the whole basilica are directed axially through the columns: each column is therefore aligned to meet these forces as efficiently as possible through their axes. As a calculated optimised solution, every column is positioned slanted rather than vertical, which is atypical compared with what we are used to seeing in the majority of buildings. The Sagrada Família Basilica is therefore a visual representation of the accommodation of gravity loading at work.

Columns on their own will not efficiently accommodate all the forces being grounded unless they subdivided through branching-up in order to meet the masses that they are required to support. The lyricism of Gaudí’s expression of worship beneath the canopy of a petrified forest is therefore matched by a lyrical structural solution.

Poetic in its simplicity, such a solution nevertheless introduces formal complexity: how do we make branching columns, and what is the nature of the joint between trunks and branches? This workshop will look at two challenges: the description and representation of columns and the creation of a potentially underlying geometrical guide, and how we branch columns and join them elegantly to the trunk. We will therefore be working in two modes: design computation through parametric design software, and physically in ters of thinking about how to produce branching columns with our hands. We will be focussing on mould-making, while considering the alternatives. The workshop will include several lectures and seminars, site visit Sagrada Família, hands-on master classes in Grasshopper™, and digital and hand-made mould making workshop sessions.