ITcon Vol. 11, pg. 437-446,

Gaudí and CAD

submitted:October 2005
revised:February 2006
published:June 2006
editor(s):Howard R
authors:Jane R. Burry, Ms
RMIT University Australia

Mark C. Burry, Prof
RMIT University Australia
summary:The presence and uptake of the computer, so omni-influential in approaches to design and architectural representation over the last decade, has begun to have an effect on built form and design quality. The computer has a reciprocal involvement in a revolution in thinking about space and time that has created a shift from the stable and metric (Euclidian) concepts inherited from the Classical through Renaissance and Modernist world to a more dynamic, unstable and unpredictable model, more closely aligned with our understanding of natural systems of growth, form and evolution. This paper focuses on a similarly reciprocal relationship between the developing use of computer-aided architectural design (CAD) and the detailed design and construction of the greatest work of a forerunner of this contemporary shift in spatial theory in architecture, the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. For fifteen years the introduction of the computer has contributed to the realisation of the highly complex Sagrada Família church based on the design bequeathed from Gaudí. While it has impacted on the speed, precision, research and design process, and undoubtedly the built outcome, the use of the computer has also contributed to the depth of understanding of the conceptual design system underlying Gaudí’s formal expression. Conceived long before the possibility of electronic computation and still beyond the powers of conventional architectural software, the implementation of this systemic approach to design is a rich source in the quest for meaningful use of computation in design and construction today and tomorrow. It promotes experimental uses of computing in both reverse engineering the design from the original architect’s gypsum plaster models and scant surviving images, and streamlining the communication and construction.
keywords:Gaudí, Sagrada Família, associative geometry, seriality, CAD CAM, organic architecture.
full text: (PDF file, 0.623 MB)
citation:Burry J R and Burry M C (2006). Gaudí and CAD, ITcon Vol. 11, Special issue The Effects of CAD on Building Form and Design Quality, pg. 437-446,