The Age reports that the chief architect working on the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona has condemned a plan to build a bullet-train tunnel less than two metres from Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece.
Backed by local civic groups, the advisers to UNESCO in Spain, and architects and engineers from 50 universities worldwide, Jordi Bonet i Armengol, who has worked on the cathedral for 40 years, said yesterday: "I am astounded by this brutality. This is an attack on culture of the highest order, something one would only expect of a Third World country."
In a protest letter, an engineer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology called the railway plan a "thoughtless act of vandalism", while the president of the cathedral board of directors, Joan Rigol, said it was "the kiss of death".
Last week, the mayor of Barcelona, the Catalan premier and the public works ministry approved the plan, which awaits an environmental impact review by the national government, a city spokesman said.
The Barcelona City Council wants to build the tunnel to provide a high-speed link between Madrid and Barcelona, and on to France.
Mayor Jordi Hereu has promised the project will "meet the highest technical standards" to guarantee "the safety of the surroundings".
But in an emotional press conference, Mr Bonet outlined what he saw as the dangers to the cathedral's foundation and structure.
He also attacked the "arrogance" of the civil engineers on the project. He said they had assured him that, with modern building materials, the architectural feat Gaudi began 120 years ago would be safe.
The tunnel, which would pass below the water level only 10 metres beneath the 20,000-tonne cathedral, could cause the ground to shift or compress. "The whole thing could crack and it would start to crumble," he said.
Tunnel sparks Gaudi cathedral fears (The Age, 27/4/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sagrada Familia (Wikipedia)
Gaudi beatification process moves ahead (CathNews, 22/5/02)
God's architect design for Twin Tower space? (CathNews, 3/2/03)
27 Apr 2007