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Current time:0:00Total duration:5:39

Video transcript

we're in Barcelona standing in front of Sagrada família the most unusual building I have ever seen the audio guide describes it as eclectic and I think that that's a good description most of the church is actually the results of work that's taking place after Gaudi but is fairly strictly adhering to his original program we're in front of one of three facades this one's called the passion facade and it's decorated with sculptures representing Christ's suffering and man's sinfulness these are much later sculptures right now the sun is shining on it but there are a giant shadows cast by these columns that emerge from the facade and in a way serve to kind of bring us in they've reached out to us I almost don't want to call them columns because there is such a stark angle columns are not ad angles like this these are boxes as you look at their bases they look like the bottoms of the trunks of trees so they totally organic about them fact the facade feels sort of like a web doesn't it it does and it feels as if those columns are actually being stretched the way that a web might be stretched and that there is something that's actually mutable about them that they're moving so there's a strange mixture of a sense of geometry and planarity and a sense of movement and the organic the church takes the position that that geometry is actually a way of expressing what is important in the catholic tradition in fact Gowdy spoke of the notion of the grid which he's turning curving in space as actually being set of three elements of the vertical of a horizontal and of course of the intersection of the two locking them in place the vertical being got the father the horizontal being Christ and the intersection being the Holy Spirit and so there is a kind of interesting attempt to oh you can hear the bells of the church now there is a kind of interesting attempt to really fully integrate symbolism church tradition structure and of course the aesthetics of the church itself into a kind of perfect and unified whole and like the gothic architects Gaudi wanted to create the heavenly Jerusalem and the feeling when one entered the Church of entering heaven on earth I think that's a perfect segue let's go inside oK we've just walked into Sagrada família and it is extraordinary it is a kaleidoscope of light and darkness and form actually I think the word kaleidoscope is a good one because in a kaleidoscope you move the ring around and the forms change and it feels very much like that as you look up at the ceiling there's geometric shapes and fracturing of shapes and color coming in from the stained glass windows and real complexity and mystery I keep thinking about that forest metaphor which is really true and feels like one is walking into a stone forest we should mention that the church is quite loud there's a lot of background noise there's a lot of dust in the air and that's because there are literally dozens of workmen who are busily preparing for the Pope's visit later this week this church has been under construction since 1882 and now in 2010 the Pope is coming to visit this week to consecrate the church so they're going to make sure I think that the interior is ready for him there's amazing light coming in through the stained-glass windows but also through the clear glass along the nave and it really has that sense of the effect of dappled sunlight coming through a forest this is the strangest integration of classicism but also of the Gothic notion of Organic of the church as something that grows in a sense up to heaven but here taken much more literally if we look at the individual peers which are one of those sort of the great units of course of traditional Gothic architecture we have something in some ways much more complex not only is each peer although paired with another quite individual but within the individual units there's a kind of incredible geometric complexity starting at the bottom we have a grounded lobing that eventually clarifies in to a more traditional Doric fluting which then divides almost as if it's alive and the the number of points in the flutes actually double and then double again until the column almost become simply around I find the Capitals to be among the strangest things I've ever seen in my life some of them are decorated with oval shapes but then others of them have this giant oval on one side of them filled with glass and images that seem to be lit from inside the column I mean it's creepy and organic and animal-like and forest-like and leaf-like and simultaneously gothic Church like all at the same time the church is an enormous ly successful synthesis of bravery of invention of both classical and gothic form of geometry of piety and of linking our contemporary world and our tech contemporary technologies with an extraordinary historical precedent Oh