The Sagrada Familia: Building Medieval With Digital Tools

The popular and controversial label of “parametric architecture” has always been something of a misnomer. Thankfully, and strangely, Antoni Gaudi can help us clarify the term.

“Parametric architecture” is a byword for the complex flowing and sculptural designs that were only recently made possible by the computing power of digital drawing tools. These tools work through parameters in formulas and scripts to produce and modify a digital architectural model. Change a dimension or an equation and the building changes with it. However, architects have been tweaking the parameters of their designs from the beginning of time, whether that meant the proportions of a column or the dimensions of a concrete shell. While the gulf of technology between now and the Parthenon is great, there are some figures who bridge that gap better than most. Enter Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, whose ongoing construction in the subject of an exhibition at the City College of New York running until May 2015. Gaudi is a fascinating figure, a modern man who set out to build a medieval structure using medieval tools, yet somehow he speaks to the question of parametric design today.

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Top Image: Courtesy Architizer.


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