Luffers take over to finish La Sagrada Familia

Liebherr 710 HC-L luffing jib tower crane Restricted space, high wind and extensive planning were all challenges met by Grúas Cerezo. Photo: Liebherr

The world famous Basilica of the Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain, is heading towards completion after being under construction for close to 150 years.

The building’s architect Antoni Gaudí, said, “The Temple of the Sagrada Família will represent the future of modern Catalonia,” around the time of the start of construction in 1882.

Having finished building the four towers of the Evangelists in November 2023 there is only one more to complete the group of six central towers. At 172.5 metres the Tower of Jesus Christ will be the tallest, topped by a cross 17 metres tall and 13.50 metres wide.

Multiple conventional saddle jib tower cranes have been used on this project over many decades. Now the highest and largest has been dismantled and replaced with two luffers. The new cranes are Liebherr 710 HC-L and 125 HC-L models supplied by locally-based Liebherr tower crane dealer Grúas Cerezo.

“The construction department of the Sagrada Família chose these cranes for two main reasons: firstly, their folding design minimises the impact on surrounding buildings, and secondly, their adaptability to the area’s specific requirements,” explains Fernando Villa, director of construction and technology at the Sagrada Família.

Liebherr 710 HC-L luffing jib tower crane Close up of the 64 tonne capacity Liebherr 710 HC-L 32-64 luffing jib tower crane. Photo: Liebherr

Big lifter

The 64 tonne capacity 710 HC-L 32-64 Litronic for the tallest tower will have a tip height of 203 metres and an operating radius of 55 metres. The base for this crane already starts at an elevation of 54 metres, mounted with a special steel structure on the roof of the central nave.

“The crane then had to be brought to its final height and anchored to the Tower of Jesus Christ at a height of approximately 130 metres,” explained Jochen Wille, Liebherr Tower Crane Solutions (TCS) project manager. A tie-in, 20 metres long, 10 metres wide and weighing 27 tonnes was designed, manufactured and installed to steady the crane as its tower height increased.

“Thanks to the close co-operation between the customer, our local supplier Grúas Cerezo and the Tower Crane Solutions department at the Liebherr factory in Germany, we managed to develop a tailor-made project for the customer,” said Tobias Böhler, Liebherr Ibérica general manager.

The smaller 125 HC-L will help build the Chapel of the Assumption and the adjacent cloisters at a lower elevation.

Hard at work

Challenges for the erection of both cranes included a need for extensive planning due to strict safety requirements, high winds and limited space to work. Another issue during installation was a constant stream of tourists visiting the monumental building.

Luffing jib cranes are “something unprecedented in Spain, which represents a significant commitment for us, as we début in this project where there is no room for error or doubt,” commented Miguel Cerezo, Grúas Cerezo chief executive. Cerezo was keynote speaker at the International Tower Cranes (ITC) conference held in Barcelona in June 2023, 

“The use of luffing jib cranes has many advantages because they are equipped with large load curves and can work in very tight spaces, thanks to the jib’s folding movement,” explains Gerardo Urendez, head of technical service for tower cranes and mobile construction cranes at Liebherr Ibérica.

Liebherr 710 HC-L luffing jib tower crane The crane’s base, at an elevation of 54 metres up on the roof. Photo: Liebherr

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