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Gaudí – structural artist

2017 Hopkins Lecture by Professor Mark Burry, 11 September 2017

Event description

Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) was an architect who undertook his own structural analysis for all his projects using highly innovative methods. The fact that his elegant and yet highly provocative structures still stand is proof of his virtuosity – who else but Gaudí would design a convent school with three floors of masonry being supported by a hall of columns, each consisting of no more than one brick resting upon another? Mark Burry’s talk will focus on two of Gaudí’s more important buildings: the Sagrada Família Basilica and the Colònia Güell Chapel – neither of which were finished in Gaudí’s time. While the Sagrada Família Basilica is scheduled for completion in 2026 – timed for the centenary of the architect’s death, the Colònia Güell Chapel remains just as it was when work was abandoned in 1914, with just the crypt completed. While obviously in the shadow of Gaudí’s magnum opus, the chapel nevertheless represents a giant step forward in terms of thinking about an intimate and inseparable relationship between architecture and structural design and performance. The chapel’s design presaged an approach to architecture that has been characterised as ‘structural art’ exemplified by Félix Candela (1910–1997), Heinz Isler (1926–2009), and others. Mark’s talk will tie both the Gaudí projects together by emphasising their differences, and their unique contributions to new ways to think about engineering architecture as ‘structural art’.

About Mark Burry

Mark Burry is the Founding Director for Swinburne University of Technology’s ‘Smart Cities Research Institute’, an appointment he took up in May 2017. His role is to help lead the development of a whole-of-university research approach to helping ensure that our future cities anticipate and meet the needs of all – smart citizens for smart cities. Mark Burry is a practising architect who has published internationally on two main themes: putting theory into practice with regard to procuring ‘challenging’ architecture, and the life, work and theories of the architect artistAntoni Gaudí. He has been Senior Architect to the Sagrada Família Basilica Foundation since 1979, pioneering distant collaboration with his colleagues based on-site in Barcelona. In 2001 Mark Burry founded the Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) at RMIT University before establishing the Design Research Institute (DRI) in 2008. He held an ARC funded Federation Fellowship in ‘Complex Architecture and Convergent Design’ 2007–2012. He joined the University of Melbourne in 2014 as Professor of Urban Futures at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning where he assisted in the development of the  Faculty’s capacity to consolidate research in urban futures, drawing together and augmenting expertise in urban visualisation, urban analytics, and urban policy.

Watch an interview with Mark about the Sagrada Familia here

Event details

Free public lecture

6pm, 11 September 2017
Christchurch Boys High School, School Hall
No registration required


Jointly hosted by the University of Canterbury and the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand Canterbury Branch

CPD Points available – please apply as individual activity through RABCPD website.