The first project by renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí built outside of his native Spain is coming to Chile – and it may be completed before his infamous La Sagrada Família is done.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet recently confirmed that after decades of talk and speculation, a chapel designed by the Catalan architect will be constructed as part of the $7 million Gaudí Cultural and Spiritual Center. The center will be located in the city of Rancagua, which is about an hour south of the capital of Santiago.
The plans for the "Our Lady of Angels" chapel first began to percolate about four years before Gaudí’s death in 1926 when he began a correspondence with Chilean Franciscan Friar Angélico Aranda, who reached out to the architect about building a house of worship in the Andean nation. At the time, Gaudí was immersed in the work for Barcelona’s La Sagrada Família – the massive, still-to-be-completed cathedral that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
"I wish to implement an original work, very original, and I thought of you," Aranda wrote to Gaudí. The two first met back in 1909 when Aranda was visiting Barcelona.
Christian Matzner, the architect now in charge of the project in Chile, told Arch Daily that Gaudí’s design dates back to 1915 and was inspired by Spanish architect Luis Bonifacio’s work inside the Girona cathedral in Spain. A letter Gaudí sent to Aranda also included a sketch of the chapel that was originally meant to be placed in the back section of the Sagrada Familia’s apse.
"This project would serve as a spiritual fellowship between Spain and America," Gaudí wrote, according to Curbed.
The current project is expected to begin later this year and be completed sometime in 2017.
The entire center will 10,858 square meters and include the chapel, a cultural center, an arts schools, a cafeteria and a contemplation space open to all religion. The Gaudí-designed chapel will rise 30 meters above its 10-square meter base and the interior will feature a central altar and a subterranean crypt where the remains of Aranda will rest.