Construct of the Week: The Sagrada Família


Construction of the Sagrada Família began 133 years ago this week but besides its remarkable gothic design and art nouveau contribution to Barcelona’s skyline, it has another reason to be famous. Over a century later, construction is still underway. Although its architect, Antoni Gaudí, often said “my client is not in a hurry” (his ‘client’ being God), construction is now progressing rapidly thanks to the use of innovative technologies. It has since been announced that Gaudí’s “unfinished masterpiece” will be completed in 2026 – in time for his centenary.

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As expected, opinions on Gaudí’s style have been mixed but his spirit of innovation is evident in the legacy he has left. At the time of Gaudí’s death in 1926, less than a quarter of the Basilica had been completed, and it progressed slowly for the next few decades owing to the Spanish Civil War and the need for private donations. Although new machinery was being utilised, it is fair to say that the introduction of computers into the design and construction processes, in the 1980s, was a pivotal moment. Pioneering research has also taken place since the mid-1990s into the flexibility of parametric modelling throughout construction projects.

As new technology has arisen, the construction of the Sagrada Família has accelerated. Jordi Bonet i Armengol, the monument’s 88-year old chief architect, said “I never thought we could go this far”, who, like many others, hadn’t even been able to envisage its completion. CAD and stone-cutting technologies have dramatically cut the labour time and costs. BIM is now being used for the latest stages of the Sagrada Família, offering an accurate visualisation of how the Basilica will look once complete – a welcome sight and an example of technology’s ability to revolutionise the construction process.

In keeping with Gaudi’s vision of longevity, the Sagrada Família School was built next to the church, for the children of the construction workers and children from underprivileged backgrounds. Although the School has been relocated, Gaudí’s progressive approach and sense of social responsibility have served as inspiration for many.


The Sagrada Família began serving its true purpose when it was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and has since held daily mass.

It is an impressive example of persistence and the effect innovative technology has on construction, especially in bringing together generations of construction workers, engineers and architects.

The Construct Series is here to explore the industry in a wider, cross-disciplinary sense, to champion the creativity of the past, as we drive the future of construction. We’ll be foregrounding innovation which is at the heart of BaseStone’s technology.


Media attributionsThe B1M (Main)

A special thanks to The B1M for the Visualisation of the Finished Basilica.

The B1M is the definitive video resource for BIM, inspiring one million people to mobilise widespread BIM adoption.

Construction, early 1988

The roof under construction, 2009

Construction workers and aerial work platforms in the nave

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Construct of the Week: The Bosphorus Bridge


On 20th February 1970, the construction of the Bosphorus Bridge began. It was the first of three suspension bridges spanning the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey. The Bosphorus strait is a historically contested body of water bisecting Turkey, dividing the European and Asian side of the country. So, the Bosphorus Bridge not only serves as an important transport route – it literally connects two continents.

The Bridge united the two banks of Istanbul, at Ortaköy (Europe) and Beylerbeyi (Asia). It was the first road crossing the Strait and upon completion in 1973, it was the longest suspension bridge outside the U.S. Bridge-making not only requires effective collaboration between those involved in its construction; collaboration and camaraderie is also needed on cultural and political fronts, gradually fostering stronger ties for the future.



The idea to bridge the gap between the two land masses dates back to around 400 BC when a floating pontoon bridge was built under the rule of Darius I in an attempt to expand the Persian Empire further into the Balkans. The decision to build a permanent, modern bridge was taken in 1957 by the Turkish government. The design of the Bridge was the work of renowned British civil engineers Sir Gilbert Roberts and William Brown, who also designed the Humber Bridge, the Severn Bridge and the Auckland Harbour Bridge. By 1968 a contract had been signed with the British firm Freeman Fox & Partners for the steel engineering work, who teamed up with Turkish construction cooperation Enka. With 35 engineers and 400 construction workers on the project, the Bridge was completed in 3 years and now has daily traffic of about 200,000 vehicles.

Bosphorus Bridge on the 1000 lira banknote (1978 – 1986)

Suspension bridges can withstand a surprising amount of weight but they are known to be swayed by environmental change. They can move subtly from side to side in strong winds and the Bosphorous Bridge is said to sag about 90cm in the middle of its span when at its traffic capacity. The Bridge was built with this in mind and has an aerodynamic deck – enabling it to withstand weather changes.



Since the Bosphorous Bridge opened, two more bridges have been constructed to cross the Strait and plans for a second underground ‘Eurasia’ tunnel are underway. The bridges have eased trade and commute routes but they also help strengthen intercontinental relations between the two sides of the country – connecting people and cultures, despite terrestrial separation!

The Construct Series is here to explore the industry in a wider, cross-disciplinary sense, to champion the creativity of the past, as we drive the future of construction. We’ll be foregrounding innovation which is at the heart of BaseStone’s technology.


Image attributions

Bosphorus Bridge aerial view

Bosphorus Bridge on 1000 lira banknote

View of Istanbul

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Construct of the Week: The Washington Monument


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The work of engineers, architects and construction workers becomes the world we live in and affects the way we relate to specific geographic locations. Even indirectly, they form the backdrop to our collective histories – especially in the case of today’s Construct of the Day.

Friday marked the release of Selma, a film about the march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama, 1965, conducted by civil rights activists demanding racial equality and voting rights. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most prominent figures at the march and much of the support he had gained was due to his unforgettable “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, two years earlier. The enduring images depicting tens of thousands of civil rights supporters listening to King’s speech, are marked by the 169.29 metre-high Washington Monument, rising from centre of the crowd.


The soaring monolith became the world’s tallest structure upon completion in 1884 – surpassing the 157 metre-high Cologne Cathedral. It was dedicated to the first President of the United States, George Washington, and the design criteria stated that it should reflect Washington’s character and patriotism: “unparalleled in the world” and “wholly American”. The construction was a national effort. Funds of $28,000 were gathered from across the country, and marble and granite was brought in from each state.

Architect Robert Mills was commissioned to head the construction of the Monument in the style of an obelisk, a tall four-sided stone pillar that tapers as it rises – originally seen in ancient Egyptian architecture. Construction halted for almost 20 years because of the lack of funds and political unrest, but after the Civil War, there was renewed interest in the Monument, evidencing the important role it plays in national solidarity.

The foundations were reinforced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the construction progressed quickly after sufficient funding was obtained from the Congress, opening it to the public in 1888.


75 years later, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech in clear sight of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, giving American society a strong message about the misalignment of their racial prejudice and the values upon which the country was founded.

The Monument stands today as a reminder of a revolutionary history and the construction efforts, though slowed by economic and political upheaval, became a symbol of American tenacity.

The Construct Series is here to explore the industry in a wider, cross-disciplinary sense, to champion the creativity of the past, as we drive the future of construction. We’ll be foregrounding innovation which is at the heart of BaseStone’s technology.


Image attributions

Crowd at Washington March 1963

Mid-construction photograph, c. 1860

Monument plans and construction timeline, c. 1885

Aerial view of Washington Monument

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Introducing The Construct Series

As the inaugural post, we decided this would be the perfect opportunity to unveil BaseStone’s new blog series. Twice a month, you’ll notice that the banner image on the BaseStone website changes and with a click, it will take you to The Construct Series, where we’ll be exploring the dynamic, groundbreaking construction scene. What’s really happening behind that construction work you see on your way to work every morning – beyond the high vis and helmets?


We’re passionate about championing engineering and promoting the positive image of construction and the innovation behind it.


In The Construct blog series, we’ll be updating our website with different images of engineering, construction and architectural projects – from around the world and across time, bringing construction out of the construction sites and discovering the stories on the other side.


By doing this, we hope to fulfil one of our main objectives – to champion construction by foregrounding the innovation and creativity behind the structure and demonstrating the importance of the built environment to our daily lives.

The work of engineers, architects and construction workers shape the modern world and form the backdrop to our memories and collective histories – keep your eye on our changing banners and click through to stay updated with the The Construct blog series!

Image attribution

The Colosseum, Rome

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