Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família

Nativity Facade, Barcelona, Spain

La Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family) is a Roman Catholic church consecrated in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI.  Construction of Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and is ongoing today.  Building progress passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of its architect’s death.

The architect Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) was the the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism.  This movement in architecture was characterized by curves rather than straight lines, by rich decoration and detail, and by organic motifs and asymmetry.  Some say there is no church anything like it in the entire history of art.

Featuring scenes of the life of Jesus, the elaborate Nativity facade faces the rising sun.

The church can accommodate 9,000 people and, when it is complete, it will be the largest church on Earth.  It is not yet complete, but it is already a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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A detail of the breathtaking Sagrada Família Basilica, designed by architect Antoni Gaudí, in Barcelona, Spain, October 21st 2015. The final phase of raising six immense towers on the basilica has begun and officials say this will make it Europe’s tallest religious building. According to chief architect Jordi Faulí the central “Tower of Jesus Christ”, the tallest of the six, will rise 172.5 metres high. Credit: AP/Manu Fernandez


Volare by Lorenzo Scudiero
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The architectural influences on Jupiter Ascending are manifold, covering everything from geometric Islamic art to sleek futurism. One of the most striking influences on the film’s architecture is, however, Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia.

Under construction Barcelona since 1882, the cathedral is still a work in progress (cranes are ubiquitous in photos of its exterior for a reason). Nonetheless, it’s one of the most beautiful structures in the world and one of the places I have to see with my own eyes.

While I can’t find any concrete sources confirming that it was an inspiration for the film, there are certainly striking parallels between the cathedral and the aesthetics of Balem’s environments. In particular, the pillars are very close to the pillars propping up Balem’s boardroom. The imposing yet almost organic and flaking quality of the exterior is also reminiscent of the design of the turreted exteriors of the refinery, suggesting a structure every bit as ancient and mouldering as its owner.