Spain urged to stop work on tunnel near Sagrada Familia
An architect leading work on the completion of Barcelona's iconic Sagrada Familia basilica said Wednesday his team has again asked the Spanish government to halt work on a train tunnel to avoid damaging the building.
Jordi Fauli, the adjunct head architect of the project, said the request was made to the development ministry following publication of a report by UNESCO experts recommending that the path of the tunnel be moved further away from the 128-year-old temple.
"It is the fifth time that we ask for this," he told AFP.
"To eliminate any risk to the temple, the tunnel should have been kept away as much as possible. What this report asks is that the works be stopped as a precaution while an alternative to the route for the tunnel is studied."
The high-speed train tunnel is to pass just 1.5 meters (five feet) from the foundations of Antoni Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Fauli's team has warned that excavation of the tunnel about 40 metres below the ground could cause the earth to subside under the weight of the vast building, which includes eight spires that rise to over 100 metres.
They also believe that the vibration from trains passing through the tunnel could shake loose the coloured tiles that are embedded in the ceiling.
Catalan officials say other routes under the city for the tunnel had been rejected because they involved digging directly beneath dozens of buildings.
Work on the Sagrada Familia, or Holy Family, began in 1882. It was designed by Gaudi, who died in 1926.
The temple is to be consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI when he visits Barcelona in November.
© 2010 AFP