The whimsical buildings of Antoni Gaudí are some of modern architecture’s greatest masterpieces. But so far, if you want to see a Gaudí in person, you have to travel to his home country of Spain.
This autumn, nearly 100 years after Gaudí’s death, Chile will begin construction on Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, based on sketches Gaudí drew in 1915. To be located in the city of Rancagua, 50 miles south of Santiago, it’s expected to be the architect’s first work completed outside of Spain.
The project has been in the works since 1922, when friar Angélico Aranda wrote a letter to Gaudí, asking him to design a chapel for Rancagua. “I wish to build something original–very original–and I thought of you,” Aranda wrote. He requested that Gaudí, whom he’d met years before in Barcelona, draw up “some plans as only you know how to do.”
Gaudí, who was building Barcelona’s La Sagrada Família Basilica at the time he received the letter, decided to send Aranda some plans for a chapel he’d designed years before, but had never implemented. This chapel had been intended as a rear section of La Sagrada Família’s apse. “This project will serve as a spiritual fraternity between Spain and America,” Gaudí wrote Aranda. In 1996, Rancagua’s Corporación Gaudí de Triana was founded to work to make the proposed design a reality.
Finally, Chile has concrete plans to start construction on the chapel, to be overseen by project architect Christian Matzner. It will cost an estimated $7 million in government funding to build the 98-foot-tall structure, which will be adorned with 20 oculi carved from stone in Barcelona. Its main tower, decorated with deep-blue lapis lazuli mined in Chile, will be topped with a copper cross. The remains of Aranda will be housed in its crypt. The chapel will comprise part of the Gaudí Cultural and Spiritual Center, which will also include an art school, a gallery dedicated to Gaudí’s work, and two large plazas. The Chilean government predicts the chapel will become Rancagua’s main tourist attraction. It’s slated to open to the public in 2017, and will be located within the Parque Cataluña, at the junction between La Avenida Alameda and El Antiguo Camino Real.
[via the Guardian]