According to Lars Spuybroek, the twentieth- and twenty-first-century architect and architectural theorist who is very much a neo-Ruskinian, Gaudí "led the gothic away from revivalism; he totally renewed its structure into something that has grasped the imaginations of many theorists. . . .

Instead of replacing the flying butress with iron like Viollet-le-Dic, he internalized it with the catenary curve — one in the middle for the nave, two on the sides — which explasins the bifurcating, treelike columsn in the Sagrada Familia. A catenary curve is fully comprised of stone — it's all compression. Gaudí, being a radical communitarian Catholic, hated industrialism, and therefore only allowed iron in the form of wrought iron, as artisan labor. He was a fervent reader of Ruskin and Morris. He renewed the Gothic but immediately made it impossible for architecture to absorb it because of his religious stance against industrial technology. Although his view was an innovation in tectonics, his technique was still traditionally stereotomic. [269-70]

Gaudí hated machinery amd machine work, but today, — though he "would be saddened by it" — "Gaudí's major work is carved by machines, not God-fearing artisans but robotic steel machines with arms that maneuver with five degrees of freedom, which suddenly makes Gaudí's position completely contemporary. . . but I have to admit, I rather enjoy that idea: a church full of tourists instead of parishioners, and made by robots instead of artisans" (270)


Spuybroek, Lars. "The Aesthetics of Variation." The Architecture of Continuity: Essays and Conversations. Rotterdam: V_2 Publishing, 2008.

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Last modified 9 July 2009