SIGGRAPH 2008 > For Attendees > Design & Computation > The Search of Form, the Search of Order

The Search of Form, the Search of Order: Gaudí and the Sagrada Familia

Theme: SIGGRAPH Core

Behind the seemingly erratic appearance of complex forms and spaces, the work of Antoni Gaudí (1852 - 1926), the architect of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, epitomizes the synthesis of plain shapes and simple geometrical operations.

Gaudí initially proposed a single helicoidal shape. After years of research and experiments, he applied two simultaneously opposite rotations, an approach that has no known precedents in architecture. Gaudí's inspiration for the helicoidal growth can be found in the natural world. It is present in trees and other plants.

The double-twisted column was based on a single rotation of a basic shape and the corresponding counter-rotation of the same shape. When the two shapes were superimposed and intersected, the resulting shape created a new emergent form. All the columns on the Sagrada Familia nave follow this process. The only variations are in the degree of rotation, the height of the column, and the initial shape used to generate the column.

With today's computer modeling systems, it is fairly easy to reproduce Gaudí's original columns and to explore possible new designs using variations of the initial shape and degree of twist, irregular forms, and non-symmetrical shapes.

Carlos Barrios
School of Architecture and Planning
The Catholic University of America