In the Sagrada Familia precinct, in the corner formed by Sardenya and Mallorca streets, there is a small structure, that Gaudí built between 1908 and 1909, using Catalan bricks (29x14x4 cm.): namely the Sagrada Familia Parish School.
Despite it was merely a provisional building destined to be a school for the sons of the bricklayers working in the temple, it is regarded as one of the chief Gaudinian architectural works.
It occupies an area of 24 x 12 metres, and its top height is 6 metres. As we have already told, the structure is based on walls made out of two layers of Catalan bricks vertically laid and joined with mortar. Inside three metallic pillars hold a double-T beam which supports the roof, made out of three layers of bricks.
One of the features of this small building is the undulation of both its walls and roof. The first one allows the thin wall to become stiffer, and the second one, with a continuous cantilever, achieves the effect of dispersing the water down the sides in a very original manner. The roof undulation is conoid-shaped, which generation allows any curve by means of the two directing lines. In this case, the walls are the directing lines and the timber beams, leaning on the walls and over the Double-T beam are the generating lines. The shape of this construction makes it very resistant and it is of a genial rationality.
The school was built over a stone masonry plinth and the inner floor pavement consists in a stone paving assembled without mortar that prevents humidity. The openings were all out of timber, with plenty of sloping windows, to improve ventilation. On both edges there were two additional departments, used as latrines, with direct access from the playing courts.
The school building consisted in three classrooms, intended as different spaces, entering from a porch with double outer doors and another one leading to the central classroom. Each classroom held some 44-56 pupils.
The outer appearance was very plain and that was its purpose. The building
cost had to be minimal and Gaudí made it possible by means
of simplicity and efficacy. We are told that the building cost round
9000 pesetas (of that age), surely being the very architect contribution.
During the Spanish Civil War, the building was burnt down twice. The first time was in 1936 and Gaudí's assistant architect and successor, Sugrañes, was charged of the reconstruction. The second time was at the end of the War (1939), they were repaired by the architect Francisco de Paula Quintana, who, following the rationalistic criteria of that time, wholly modified the building appearance.
The Parish School fulfilled its role during 50 years and were suppressed in the 1980's. For a time they lodged the offices of the Sagrada Familia building committee, so that the interior could not be visited.
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