Innovative PLM Solutions from IBM and Dassault Systèmes Help Accelerate Construction of Sagrada Familia Cathedral

Powerful architectural design package used to solve "Gaudí mystery" and help bring unfinished Barcelona landmark
a giant step closer to completion

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, and Paris, France – December 14, 2004 IBM and Dassault Systèmes (Nasdaq: DASTY, Euronext Paris: #13065, DSY.PA) today announced that designers working on the Sagrada Família Cathedral, started in 1882 by Antoni Gaudí, are using their Product Lifecycle Management Solutions to rapidly advance completion of the cathedral.

Since the celebrated Catalan architect’s death in 1926, work on the highly complex stone structure -- considered one of the most mystical constructions on the globe -- has been under the auspices of the Sagrada Família Foundation. For more than a century, work has been ongoing to complete Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece interpreting the large-scale architectural models he prepared during the architect’s final years.


IBM Business Partner gedas iberia s.a., an information technology consulting and solutions company, and the Sagrada Família Foundation are now using the world’s leading virtual product design application, CATIA V5, an IBM PLM solution developed by Dassault Systèmes, to aid in the construction of the unfinished church. The Foundation commissioned gedas iberia s.a. to incorporate new approaches to computer-aided design into the construction process. Using CATIA V5, the company has overcome obstacles such as the challenge of “linking” the software to the tools used to prepare granite from a local quarry.


“The granite used throughout the church poses a real challenge,” said Juan José Blasco, operation manager, gedas iberia s.a. “Because of this, we needed an intuitive software that would integrate into a global process and enable machining tools to react to the hardness of the material. Using CATIA V5, we were able to create a reliable rendering of a drawing, which offered us unlimited three-dimensional movement for the tools.”


The new technology represents an important, evolutionary step for Gaudí’s design because, prior to introduction of advanced design software to the project in 1989, work had been undertaken painstakingly by hand. The recent introduction of CATIA V5 enables virtual models to be converted directly into actual stone prototypes, eliminating the need for additional steps and thus achieving greater efficiency and precision. This specific application of CATIA V5, which has been customized by gedas for the project, is the first of its kind to be implemented and has raised the bar for new techniques and standards that can be deployed on other architectural and construction projects.


“We still have a lot of challenges ahead, and we haven’t found answers for all of Gaudí’s proposals—such as the cross that will top the cathedral,” said Jordi Bonet i Armengol, chief architect and project manager, Sagrada Família Temple. “It will probably take another 20 years before we reach this phase, but by that time, I am convinced that even more advanced technology from IBM, Dassault Systèmes and gedas will be there to assist us and help us move much faster.”


“PLM is synonymous with product innovation,” said Raoul Van Engelshoven, vice president, IBM Product Lifecycle Management. “We're honored that the designers charted with the completion of the Sagrada Familia have chosen our PLM solution to accelerate the construction of this unique and incredibly innovative example of Spain’s cultural heritage.”


“Architecture is a fusion of science and emotion,” said Denis Senpéré, vice president, PLM, Europe, Dassault Systèmes. “The use of CATIA V5 in this massive project demonstrates the flexible and extensive architectural design capabilities of PLM Solutions from Dassault Systèmes. We are honored that our solutions are being used to complete this unique example of Gaudí’s genius.”


The leadership position of IBM and Dassault Systèmes in the architectural industry is extensive. The software is used by one of the world’s most innovative and celebrated architects, Frank Gehry. He is best known for his unique brand of modernist works, which feature curvaceous forms of metal structures made from bent and twisted steel. Like Gaudí, Frank Gehry has left his mark on Spain with his famed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. 


Another application of CATIA V5 can be seen across Malaysia, where dome maker Dian Kreatif has used the software to create high-tech composite domes for religious and public buildings. In this case, the software has reduced construction time of the domes from six months to six weeks and has helped increase sales for the company by 40 percent.


About Dassault Systèmes

Dassault Systèmes, the 3DEXPERIENCE® Company, is a catalyst for human progress. We provide business and people with collaborative virtual environments to imagine sustainable innovations. By creating virtual twin experiences of the real world with our 3DEXPERIENCE platform and applications, our customers can redefine the creation, production and life-cycle-management processes of their offer and thus have a meaningful impact to make the world more sustainable. The beauty of the Experience Economy is that it is a human-centered economy for the benefit of all – consumers, patients and citizens. Dassault Systèmes brings value to more than 300,000 customers of all sizes, in all industries, in more than 150 countries. For more information, visit