Beyond the Sagrada Família

Hello all,


The summer is coming to the end this year and hope you all had a nice one! It was a short summer this year for me because firstly, I was really enjoying the travelling during this summer, and also, the summer in Northern Ireland was truly not long enough (need more!).


Talking about travelling, I have to mention the Barcelona trip. Even though it was only a three days short trip, and the temperature was melting me in Barcelona, we were impressed by the super modernized city and abundant cultural embraced within the city (sorry Barcelona crew, it was too rash to visit you). While visiting the city, it was really helpful to have a “must to try” food and destinations list holding in my hands kindly provided by Jordi and Javier. The pity was that we did not have enough time to try all of them on the list. Instead, we picked the most famous touristic destinations and symbolic food on that list. While traveling around in the city, we were amazed by how Antoni Gaudí, the Spanish architect, had contributed to Barcelona’s tourism – among the places we had visited, the distinct architectures designed by Gaudí took a large proportion. And within these masterpieces designed by Gaudí, the Sagrada Família is probably the most stunning one. This building that Gaudí devoted himself in was started its construction in 1882, and it is still under construction and will probably be completed by 2026.


We were totally astonished by the building simply standing in front of it. However, it is more than just a gorgeous building. The philosophy behind the design of this building is what truly remarkable, and it is worth to think how can we bring these concepts into our works.

People oriented: Even through the building is still under construction, it is already open to the public so that people can appreciate its wonderfulness. The funding of the building is actually coming from the people’s private donation and ticket proceeds. Gaudí once described it “is made by the people and is mirrored in them. It is a work that is in the hands of God and the will of the people.” I think this is very like the concept of open source nowadays but from a century ago.

Top-down architecture: With such a large project like the Sagrada Família, it is not feasible to design every detail of it even with devoting the whole life of a person in it. Therefore, it is a good practice to have a top-down architecture so that the detailed design can be “plugged in” latter by other architects. And it was what Gaudí did. He defined the “top” architecture, the multiple façades, for the successors to follow.

Vertical construction: When a top-down architecture is defined, vertical construction is a good practice to achieve the people oriented construction. Gaudí focused his lifetime in developing one of the three façades of the Sagrada Família, the Nativity Façade. On one hand, it would be a sample for the successors to reference. On the other hand, people could start to appreciate the architecture way before its final completion.

Fine details: Sometimes it would not be a masterpiece if it is only with a great architecture design – it needs fine details to supplement its skeleton to make it perfect. Once you stand outside or inside the Sagrada Família, the breath taking amount of fine reliefs, curves, and decorations in the building would just leave you wordless. They are the elements sublimate the building into a work of art.


Other than the Barcelona trip, we also visited Iceland. One can appreciate all kinds of geographic sceneries in Iceland – glacier, volcano, tundra, geyser, desert, canyon, and most uniquely, black beaches (everything you need in one package). The Icelandic people have great respect to the originality of this land. For example, foreign horses and even Icelandic horses who have participated international competitions are forbidden to enter Iceland to ensure their purity of species and prevent new pathogens. Icelandic people can understand ancient Norwegian language whereas Norwegians can hardly do that nowadays. The first thing we noticed was that Iceland was not all covered with ice and snow as it may sounds – the lowest temperature we experienced was about 4° and 10° in average (we did not go into the glacier). The weather in Iceland is a bit like that in Ireland – a change in every 5 mins. However, the pricing, especially food in restaurant and housing, is much more expensive than most places in Europe. Overall, if you like nature, Iceland is the place that I highly recommend to visit.

Currently, our work is mainly focusing on developing a better illumination correction algorithm to overcome the nonuniform illumination and illuminant variation issues within the digital images. Hopefully, this new algorithm would help to achieve a higher colour constancy and more accurate colorimetric prediction for the smartphone devices that we are developing.

“Wake me up when September ends.” Yes, it is the time to continue working very hard towards the final goal of our FoodSmartphone project (Bringing the lab to the samples!). I hope you are all doing well and eager to hear from you!

Best regards,


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