The Casa Batllo is a building designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, the highest representative of Catalan modernism, between 1904 and 1907 is situated at number 43 of the Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona, the wide avenue that crosses the modernist district in the Eixample. It was commissioned by Josep Batlló i Casanovas, a textile businessman linked to the Godó family by marriage. Its best-known part is the façade, considered one of the architect’s most creative and original works; combines stone, wrought iron,broken glass and polychrome ceramics.
Gaudí had for its construction the collaboration of the architects Josep Maria Jujol and Joan Rubió i Bellver for the realization of the facade, with the craftsmen of the forge the Germans Badia, the carpenters Casas and Bardés, the ceramist Sebastià Ribó and Josep Pelegrí (stained glass maker).
Casa Batlló is a reflection of Gaudí’s artistic fullness: it belongs to his naturalistic period (first decade of the 20th century), a period in which the architect perfected his personal style, drawing inspiration from the organic forms of nature, for which he put in practice a whole series of new structural solutions originated in Gaudí’s in-depth analyzes of ruled geometry. To this the Catalan artist adds great creative freedom and an imaginative ornamental creation: starting from a certain baroque style, his works acquire great structural richness, of shapes and volumes devoid of rationalist rigidity or any premiseclassical.
It seems that the goal of the designer was to avoid straight lines completely. Much of the façade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís) that starts in shades of golden orange moving into greenish blues. The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur. Like everything Gaudí designed, Casa Batlló is only identifiable as Modernisme or Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, has unusual tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work. There are few straight lines, and much of the façade is decorated with a colorful mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís). The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur. A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the lance of Saint George (patron saint of Catalonia, Gaudí’s home), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.
The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), as it has a visceral, skeletal organic quality. The building looks very remarkable, like everything Gaudí designed, only identifiable as Modernisme or Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, is rather astonishing with tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work.
The beginning of 20th century was characterized by the social and economic situation generated as a result of the loss of the Spanish colonies in 1898, which led to a decline in the short term for the Spanish economy, and especially Catalan. The loss of Cuba resulted in a repatriation of Catalan capital invested in the island and allowed investment in the Principality, with a growth of 2.2%, quite low compared to 1898, which had been a 5.5%. The main foreign market became the USA, with a 72% market share; therefore the annual growth of the industry was lower than the growths of the end of the century xix, when the colonial market was available. The crisis from 1908 to 1912 was due to the maximum dependence on the outside, as cotton, machines and energy sources needed to be imported. The recovery was due to three main factors:
The electrification of the factories, mainly thanks to the creation of great hydroelectric companies like the Traction Light and Power, popularly known like the Canadian, which allowed to move away the industries of the ports and rivers.
The empowerment of new industrial sub-sectors such as the chemical, metallurgical, automotive, which brought importance to the textile sector, which began to lose some prominence in the Catalan industry, despite continuing to be the benchmark.
The outbreak of the First World War, which allowed the most important foreign market to be the European, with 70% of exports.
Another factor that influenced the strong growth of the sector was the French protectionist practices that catapulted the production of Indians in Catalan industry, a product that demerited the French seders of Lyon, but enjoyed high demand.. In this context, the monarchy strengthened the ranks of the aristocracy with the creation of a new nobility, which came from the bourgeoisie enriched by the technological modernization of the industrial sector and the return of Indian capital. In Barcelona, which was the first Spanish city where the effects of the industrial revolution led by the textile industry were noticed, noble titles were granted such as that of Count of Godó, Baron of Quadras or Sert.
The Mansana of Discord
The Passeig de Gràcia should be a determinant axis in the process of restoration of the Eixample project of Cerdà, and between 1860 – 1890, walk around it to define a low density residential area consists largely buildings detached houses, large mansions with gardens, mansions, such as the Sama, the Robert, the Palau Marianao or the Marcet family, now home to the Cinema Comèdia. In the nineties, this whole sector of the city gradually acquired a commercial prominence that attracted the bourgeoisie and led to the replacement of detached houses with apartment buildings. Gaudí himself had taken part in the decoration of two shops on the promenade: the Gibert Pharmacy and the Torino Bar, both of which had disappeared.
Between 1900 and 1914 Passeig de Gràcia consolidated itself as the main bourgeois residential center. The stop that had opened in 1902, at the junction with Carrer d’Aragó, allowed passengers arriving by train to have a more central stop than the Estació de França. In 1904, coinciding with the completion of the works of the Casa Batlló, King Alfonso XIII visited Barcelona and the Monarchic Youth, of which Josep Maria Milà i Camps was president, decided that the best place to receive him it was the fashionable walk among wealthy families. When Alfonso XIII saw the promenade he was dazzled and on a later visit he would say that “Madrid is very beautiful, but Barcelona surpasses it in two things: the Tibidabo and the Passeig de Gràcia”.
Between 1905 and 1906 the track was transformed when they finally put the cobblestone walk, the trams were moved to the side roads and settled known banks-lanterns of Peter Falqués. Josep Puig i Cadafalch had already built the Casa Amatller (1900) and in the same section the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner had completed the transformation of the Casa Lleó Morera on the corner with Carrer del Consell de Cent. With this remodeling he won the annual artistic building competitionof 1906. And while these architects and their works produced an attraction and a sign of distinction among their clients, the island was criticized by the satirical press. The popular nickname of “the apple of discord ” defined precisely the rivalry between architects and, especially, their facades. When Gaudí had to solve the task, he already knew what the others had done. In fact, the presence of the most amazing architect of them all was the element that caused this name.
The struggle between the most famous architects of the time attracted many other bourgeois who wanted to have the house on the fashionable promenade. In 1906 the Malagridas, who traded with Argentina, had a building built with a dome at number 27, the work of the master builder Joaquim Codina i Matalí. Sagnier built the Mulleras family’s house next to the Amatller house, while in 1905 the widow Marfà completed the medievalist-style work she had commissioned from Manuel Comas on the corner with Carrer de València. The strong impetus of the Barcelona bourgeoisie was key in the development and expansion of the modernist movement that ended in Europe around 1905, while in Catalonia it lasted another decade. On the other hand, in the rest of Spain the movement had virtually no echo, due to the difficult economic conditions that led to the loss of the American colonies.
The Madrid magazine Nuevo Mundo of February 14, 1907 described the work of Catalan modernist architects: “Despite not yet reaching perfection or at least the just conciliation of what is beautiful, harmonious and useful, or still constituting their works a clear and precise vision of an art of its own, is a harbinger of abundant aptitudes to reach this glorious goal of which it can be considered as closest to the picturesque and bold Gaudí. In response, the Catalan Enlightenment published on March 10, 1907: «The Spaniards themselves begin to surrender to reality and deal with and comment, albeit very lightly, on the works of Domènech, Puig i Cadafalch, Sagnier, Gaudí and so many others. »
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852 – 1926) was a Catalan architect recognized internationally as one of the most important geniuses in his discipline. From childhood Gaudí was an attentive observer of nature, whose shapes, colors and geometry attracted him. He worked on behalf of private clients to create his private mansions such as Casa Vicens or Palau Güell, but some of his clients, members of the emerging bourgeoisie at the turn of the century, commissioned him from multi-family buildings, three of them in Barcelona: the Calvet house, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. The evolution of Antoni Gaudí’s work starts from the beginnings of Gothic to transcend and abandon the Neo-Gothic and create a work of his own style that is essential for modern architecture and is considered the main exponent of Catalan Modernism. Geometric and structural components play a central role in his work. The Sagrada Família, La Pedrera, Parc Güell, Colònia Güell and Casa Batlló represent key figures in modernist architecture in Barcelona.
Gaudí excelled in the use of all the applied arts for the decoration of his buildings and the recovery for the ornamentation of the old mosaic transformed by Gaudí into trencadís, turned into a new technique. He exhibited an important exchange of values closely associated with the cultural and artistic currents of his time, represented in Catalan Modernism. It anticipated and influenced many of the forms and techniques that would influence the development of modern construction in the twentieth century. Gaudí’s work represents the genius of the architect, expressing particular spatial qualities and the plasticity of the undulating lines and the harmony of colors and materials, both in the architectural structures and in the sculpted elements.
Josep Batlló i Casanovas (? – Barcelona, March 10, 1934), was a textile businessman, son of Feliu Batlló Masanella and Josefa Casanovas i Duran, who had two brothers: Thomas and the Alejo. He married 14 May 1884 to Amàlia Godó Belaunzarán, daughter of Bartomeu Godó i Pié, an active politician of the Liberal Party and businessman, who was a member of parliament for Igualada, and a member of the family of the founders of the newspaper La Vanguardia and the Godó of the jute industry.
The celebration of the wedding of the two young people of the Catalan bourgeoisie of the late nineteenth century began with the bachelor party of the groom in the “Restaurante de Francia” in the Plaza Real no. 12, founded by Msr. Justin, a fact that was picked up by the press. On July 17, 1901, José M. Llaudet Bou, S. in C. de C. de Sant Joan de les Abadesses entered as a partner in the company name, with an initial capital of 325,000 pesetas. Its founding partner was Josep Maria Llaudet Bou. Josep Batlló’s father, Feliu Batlló i Massanella, was a Catalan textile manufacturer with several factories. This family branch of the Batllós was not, however, directly linked to the owners of the old Vapor Batlló, nor of Can Batlló (Carrer Urgell), now the Barcelona Industrial School, which were created by the Olot branch of the Batllós. Of this lineage, the three brothers Batlló and Batlló, Enric, Àngel and Pia, had commissioned buildings from the architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas, who also designed the family pantheon in the Montjuïc cemetery.
In addition to the textile business he was closely related to La Vanguardia, due to his family relationship as a political cousin of Ramón Godó i Lallana, first count of Godó. He died in Barcelona on March 10, 1934.
Casa Batlló is the result of the total renovation of an old conventional house built to order by Lluís Sala Sánchez in 1875 by the architect Emili Sala i Cortés, the same one who built the house of Emília Adrià, just in side, on the corner with Carrer d’Aragó and which, with modifications, is still preserved. It was a building without special features within the traditional eclecticism of the late nineteenth century. In 1900 the estate was acquired by Josep Batlló. It is thought that at this point there had previously been a farmhouse because in the basement was a cave used as a cooler and that Gaudí wanted to preserve.
Sala i Cortés was the author of the Elizalde house and the Emilia Carles house (now the Ducs de Bergara hotel) and of outstanding summer mansions in La Garriga. He was related to Gaudí when he was his professor at the Barcelona School of Architecture and also because he had occasionally hired him as a draftsman.
The reform project was commissioned by Josep Batlló and his wife Amàlia Godó Belaunzarán, who applied for a license on November 7, 1904. Another branch of the Batlló family had previously commissioned other houses from Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas. Specifically, Casa Pia Batlló on Gran Via and Rambla de Catalunya, Casa Àngel Batlló at Carrer de Mallorca 253-257 and Casa Enric Batlló at number 259-263 on the same street on the corner with Passeig de Gràcia, all of them of an eclectic style with elements of modernist aesthetics. But Josep Batlló wanted to stand out and chose Antoni Gaudí, the innovative architect of Comte Güell and winner of the first edition of the annual competition for artistic buildings with the Casa Calvet, in 1900.
The initial task was to demolish the building and make a new one; however, Gaudí convinced Batlló to keep it and make a transformation by reforming only the façade. Eventually the intervention, however, went much further, as it involved a major reorganization of the spaces, with more ventilation and natural lighting, two additional floors and the remodeling of the attic and roof. This transformation went from 21 meters high and 3,100 m to the current occupation with a total of 4,300 m with 450 m of surface area per plant, a height of 32 meters and 14.5 meters wide. The refurbishment of the façade was the initial object of the refurbishment and Gaudí replaced it entirely on the ground floor and the first floor with a stone structure from Montjuïc with wavy shapes. The rest was chopped to give it a wavy shape vertically.
To design the building the architect made some plans, but his design formula materialized with a plaster model that he created with his own hands to achieve the sinuous shapes of the facade, a means to explain the his vision much more practical than the plans. The left side of its top floor is set back, creating an asymmetry with respect to the much more squared right side. Gaudí decided to exchange a room on the top floor for a terrace to create a specular space with the steps of the Casa Amatller. The builder Josep Bayó narrated Gaudí’s words: “We will not do what he thought so as not to improve what is next to it, which we will also enjoy. Here a tower, there a tribune…”. On the right it led to the profile of the crown until it found the roof of the neighboring building (also by the architect Emili Sala i Cortés), higher than the one on the left. Unfortunately, in the 1960s, this building was rebuilt with very little respect for the Casa Batlló.
The project was strongly questioned by the municipal authorities of the time and Barcelona City Council, in April 1906, that is, two years after the application for the license, ordered the interruption of the works ” for not having permission “. Far from stopping the works, which were practically finished, the owners responded shortly after with the request for permission to rent the flats. Even with the reform completed, the City Council did not grant him the “building permit” until seven years later, on February 18, 1913. The confrontation with the authorities did not end here, as Josep Batlló did not settle the contribution to the Treasury until 1920 because he disagreed with the assessment made by the ministry’s technicians and commissioned a counter-assessment to the ‘, who made a description of the building justifying a lower cost, as despite being ostentatious, the cost of the work had been low due to the value of the materials used.
When the building was practically finished, Pere Milà visited his father’s partner in a hemp business – Josep Batlló – when the “Can Batlló” was being built, he agreed with Gaudí and assured him that the next play would do it for him.
Gaudí had his auxiliary architects who already collaborated with him in the Sagrada Família, Francesc Berenguer i Mestres (1866-1914), his immediate assistant, and Domènec Sugrañes i Gras (1879-1938) and Josep Canaleta i Cuadras (1875-1950), who were the editors of the project. It also had the collaboration of the sculptors Josep Llimona i Bruguera, who made the figures for the oratory, Carles Mani i Roig, who also made Christ crucified for the oratory; Joan Matamala i Flotats carried out the stone work on the façade and Joan Beltran was the model sculptor. The participation of Josep Maria Jujol as an assistant Gaudí focuses on the design of the wooden doors and other decorations and paintings on the first floor of the chapel. For the chapel he also made, in a small workshop he had in the Milan house, some chandeliers in clay. However, the most important intervention was the design of the polychrome surface of the central part of the facade.
The master builder was Josep Bayó i Font, whom he had hired for the first time to make the First Mystery of Gloria de Montserrat and who would later also be the builder of the Casa Milà. His brother Jaume, an architect who had worked with Domènech i Montaner, who was the author of the Baurier house in Carrer d’Iradier in Barcelona, collaborated in this work. The carpentry was carried out by the cabinetmakers’ workshop “Casas i Bardés”, who made the elaborate doors and windows of the main floor and the very complex main staircase, which was practically built ” in situ ” and was “adjusted” “by Gaudí several times. The execution of the furniture designed by Gaudí is also the work of these artists. Although its durability is obvious, the cost of this item must have been considerable, since when they intervened in the Milan house, after making two doors, knowing the price, Mrs. Roser Segimon decided that no more would be made of this quality.
The wrought iron work on grilles and balconies was carried out by the brothers Lluís and Josep Badia i Miarnau. The Badia brothers did very outstanding work on Gaudí’s works, such as the spectacular door of the Palau Güell and the balconies of the Casa Milà. Sebastià Ribó made the large ceramic pieces of the ridge and the blue tiles placed as scales on the façade, following the technique of plastering, as well as mixing the clay with the varnish. He had his workshop on Dos de Maig street. Serial pottery was made at the Pujol i Bausis Factory. The cupola and the cross that finishes off the tower were realized in the factory “The Roqueta de Santa Catalina” of Palma.
The broken glass used on the façade was provided free of charge by Tallers Pelegrí, which was on Gran Via, near Plaça Espanya. They were the same craftsmen responsible for the realization of the interior leaded stained glass windows of the building, both in the upper parts of the doors and in the large window of the main floor with polygonal glass and circular pieces and with a volume of intense colors.
Owners and commercial activities
The building responds to the model of “rent house” designed to live the owners in the main with tenants on the other floors, a formula that was applied to much of the architecture of this part of the “new city” in the late nineteenth century. The permit to rent the flats was presented to Barcelona City Council on October 13, 1906, the date on which the works were completed. When Amàlia Godó died in 1940, the building was inherited by her daughters Mercedes and Carmen. They sold the property in 1954 to the Sociedad Iberia de Seguros. This insurance company used it as its headquarters and did some restorations.
In 1989 a long sale process began with an offer of 10 billion pesetas (~ € 60.1 million) from the Japanese bank Sumittomo, which ended in frustration. In 1991 the president of the insurer, Enric Bernat, known as the owner of Chupa Chups, entrusted Sotheby’s with the sale operation with a starting price of 10 billion pesetas, all and that the valuation made by this same entity was 13.7 billion pesetas (~ 82.3 million €). A year later, and due to the high price and the crisis in the real estate sector, it was still on sale. Bernat bought 22.5% of the insurer Iberia and took full control of the company in the summer of 1992. Finally, given the lack of buyers and the economic difficulties the insurer was going through, it was the Bernat family themselves who acquired the building for 3.6 billion pesetas (~ € 21.6 million). At present they continue being proprietors of the Batlló House.
When in 1905 the French film firm Pathé Frères decided to move to Barcelona, he chose the ground floor of the Casa Batlló. The photograph was one of the booming new technologies, along with the phone, as Domenech i Montaner wanted to highlight the sculptures on the main floor of the house Lleó Morera. In addition, the movement of the wealthy classes to the Eixample had changed the centrality of the activity in Barcelona and the famous photographers had moved to Passeig de Gràcia: Antoni Esplugas had moved to number 25 from his former location in the Plaça del Teatre, and Pau Audouardhe had gone to the neighboring house León Morera, with a grand inauguration of his studio on July 6, 1905. Thus, the distributor of a product as innovative as the cinema chose to set up in a prominent place and very close to its potential customers. The firm continued in these facilities until 1921.
From 1922 the Martignole grocery store, owned by Emilio and Margarita Martignole, was installed on the ground floor. The establishment was headquartered at 10 Carrer Escudellers, where the business had been founded under the name “El Colmado” in 1810. In 1849 it was run by the founder’s son-in-law, Émile Martignole, a French native of Cavanac near Carcassonne, who was president of the French Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona and who died in 1905, leaving the business to two of his 5 children. Emile would incorporate innovations in the business and the place had gone from being a grocery store, where there was a bit of everything – preserves, wines and spirits, medicines-,to be a delicatessen, the main supplier to the bourgeoisie thanks to wines and other imported products, such as Dutch “meat cheese”.
In 1930, once the store located on the ground floor of the Casa Batlló had been consolidated, the original Escudellers premises were closed. The business disappeared shortly before the Spanish Civil War due to disagreements over the gelatin patent between Emilio, who had renewed it in 1914, and the husband of his sister Margarita, Émile Berthelier, who ran the business.. Throughout the “Gelatina Martignole” continued to be manufactured until the second half of the twentieth century distributed by laboratories Vidal Ribas, SL.
After the war period during which the Batlló house was confiscated and the family left for Italy, on January 1, 1940, it opened on the ground floor the SYRA Art Gallery, owned by Montserrat Isern and which before the war had been installed on Diputació street 262. The gallery was decorated by Alexandre Cirici and transformed by the architect Pere Ricart Biot. It existed until the end of the 1980s, after the death of its owner on July 9, 1986. Artists such as Josep Amat, Pere Daura, Grau Sala, Joaquim Sunyer, Francesc Gimeno, passed through this gallery.Josep Granyer i Giralt, Rafael Benet i Vancells or Josep Guinovart, who had his first exhibition here. Montserrat Isern’s sensibility was a window for painters such as Àngels Santos, Olga Sacharoff and Soledad Martínez.
Between 1930 and the end of the twentieth century, the Roca de Viñals Laboratories, dedicated to clinical analysis, were installed on the fourth floor. Towards the 1980s they were run by Dr. Alfonso Vidal-Ribas Chair, a distant relative of Teresa Vidal-Ribas, daughter-in-law of Josep Batlló i Casanovas. On February 22, 1942, the company Producciones y distribuciones Chamartin, dedicated to the distribution of films, mainly of post-war Spanish production, moved to the main floor. The production company’s Barcelona branch set up its cartoon factory on the Batlló flat. In 1958 he moved tocarrer de Mallorca 213.
The disappearance of the taste for modernism, especially attacked by the noucentistas and the avant-garde that advocated simplicity and functionalism, reduced interest in Gaudí’s work that became sacrificial in favor of the comfort of modern times and the functional needs of companies which were installed there, modifying walls and lowering ceilings. In the 1980s there was a recovery of sensitivity in favor of modernism. Shortly after the change of ownership in 1954, the Sociedad Iberia de Seguros carried out a restoration between 1960 and 1970. On that occasion, the main façade was cleaned, including the stone elements of Montjuïc.
In 1981, on the occasion of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the inauguration, the attic was restored and the interior space was recovered, which had been degraded due to lack of use, becoming a mere room of bad places without importance. The original shapes of the arches, their white color, were recovered and lighting was installed that enhanced the shapes and gave aesthetic value to a space created to serve domestic functions. The work, completed in March 1981, included changing the pavement by reusing mosaic pieces recovered from the flats in Gaudí’s 1904 refurbishment.
In 1983, the railings of the balconies were restored to their original ivory color, which had been covered in black. The change, despite being more respectful of the original, came as a surprise after so many years with the color added. From 1989 onwards, structures are reinforced, still the foundations of the original building, the ground floor and all the skylights that allow natural light to enter the basement and ground floor are restored. The ceiling is decorated with Jujolian undulations as a result of redoing the vaults to align them with the solar projection on the façade and thus make better use of the light. A staircase is built that connects the spaces dedicated to living rooms on the ground floor and the basement. The rear façade is restored by cleaning and reviewing all the trencadís decoration and the terrace of the main floor is restored: hydraulic floor, grilles and bottom wall with ceramic planters. In 1992, the exterior doors of the ground floor were restored and the roof pavement and the chimney flue were treated.
In 1994 the change of ownership took place with the departure of the Sociedad Iberia de Seguros and the transfer to the Bernat family. From 1987 the Casa Batlló was restored by the architectural team of Josep Maria Botey, who disassociated himself from the work in 1994 for not agreeing with some proposals of the new owners, the Bernat family. According to the architect, it was not accepted to do the restoration with museum criteria, that is to say, perceptibly differentiating the original work from the added or simulated one. When he left the project, Nina Bernat, from the family that owned the building and interior designer, commissioned Joan Bassegoda i Nonell, director of the Gaudí Chair, to continue the work.
Since 1998, the first floor has been completely restored, strengthening the structure of its floor, replacing the deteriorated wooden beams of the original 1875 building that had been recycled by Gaudí, an intervention that, of course, restore the roof of the noble floor. The elevator was restored in 1999 and a consolidation operation was carried out on the façade, which had areas at risk of landslides. From the year 2000, and in preparation for the celebration of the year Gaudí 2002, an intense restoration of the façade was carried out with the recovery of glass and trencadís, regenerated joints lacking mortar and was made a fungicide treatment. The balconies, carpentry and broken round ceramic pieces were inspected and repaired.
A water-repellent treatment was also applied to the sandy stone of Montjuïc and the original gold and vanilla colors of the bars and the base of the balconies were reproduced. The inner courtyards were reviewed and cleaned, replacing some broken pieces; the carpentry of the gaps facing the courtyards was restored, as were the doors and peepholes of the entrance doors to the flats. After the Gaudí International Year 2002, the effort to recover the attic, the roof and the chimneys has continued, where, in 1981, work had already been carried out to clean and consolidate it. In this action, the hydraulic pavements are restored, all the carpentry is recovered and the upper roof is reviewed.
In 1995, the refurbishment was inaugurated, which converted 1,830 m 2 (basement, ground floor and first floor) into a space available for social events. In addition to the organization of events for companies or individuals, the house has been open to visitors since March 19, 2002 coinciding with the year of Gaudí. Visits can be made every day of the year and have a system of audio guides that provide multiple details of the construction process and the artistic interpretation of Gaudí’s work. As new spaces have been restored -such as the attic or the roof-, these have been incorporated into the visit and now you can visit almost the entire building (noble floor, rear terrace, first floor, attic, roof, etc.), except for the upper floors which are inhabited or occupied by offices of the company that runs it. The spaces on the ground floor and the basement, which are dedicated to organizing events, are also not part of the visit. In 2011 it received about 600,000 visits.
On the first floor, together with the cafeteria service and the merchandising shop, there is a space dedicated to Gaudí’s furniture that includes faithful reproductions of pieces from Casa Batlló and Casa Calvet, providing an ideal complement to better understand the daily life of the house when it was created. Since June 2000, Casa Batlló has been included in the Modernisme Route, an initiative of Barcelona City Council to recognize and promote Barcelona ‘s architectural heritage. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the opening to the public of the Casa Batlló, in October 2012 a video mapping show was held on its facade with the name of The Awakening of the Casa Batlló where the different interpretations and symbolisms of the building: water lily pond, windows yawning, the animated dragon throwing fire and fighting with St. George, bones in windows and balconies, penitent rat flying, masks and party confetti with fireworks, etc.
Beyond the different interpretations of specific areas or details of this work, Casa Batlló, within the naturalist line of the author, is inspired by the marine environment. The variety of its colors and species make up the thesis with a prominent dominance of the blue of the sea and the ocher of the rocks, a blue that appears linked to the ceramic decoration, the facade, the lobby or the interior courtyards. According to historian Juan José Lahuerta, “the interior of the house becomes a gathering place for the man who faces the crowds of the city and fights in a competitive world, a kind of underwater cave where to gather, where to find an intimate space, as shown in the work of Jules Verne(very popular at the time and died in 1905 coinciding with the construction of the building), the hero, the modern and conquering man has two realities: an exterior, cosmic, without limits and an intimate where he collects in the cave, in the mother’s womb of the earth; nature, reason, and history converge in this work. ”
The façade shows three very different parts despite being harmoniously integrated. The upper part, a little set back from the street alignment, is a kind of ridge with characteristic ceramic pieces that have given rise to multiple interpretations. The central part, which reaches to the top floor, is a multicolored tapestry from which the balconies protrude. The lower part with the ground floor, the main floor and the two galleries on the first floor are built by a sandstone structure of Montjuïc with wavy shapes. The upper part of the building is a crowning, a kind of immense gable, which is at the same level as the roof and allows to disguise the room where the water tanks were and which is currently an empty room.
Its profile is reminiscent of the arched back of a dragon, where the ceramic tiles would be the scales. The mythical monster has his head on the right side where a small triangular window in the structure simulates his eye. Legend has it that the orientation of this window allowed Gaudí to observe the Sagrada Família he was building simultaneously, a vision that is impossible today for new buildings. The pieces with metallic reflections that simulate the monster’s scales vary in color from green on the right side, where the head begins, to deep blue and purple in the large central part, and finally reddish and intense pink. on the left side. The ceramic pieces, placed overlapping as if they were tiles, are made with a new technique that Gaudí and Domènech i Montaner recovered by studying them in a workshop in the Valencian Country.
At the top of the building, as if simulating the dragon’s spine, you can see two types of pieces of very unique shapes. Some are sinusoidal tower segment-shaped tiles that top the structure and are made of colors similar to the scales they cover, and others are warrior armor-elbow-shaped covering tiles that cover the joints of the previous ones. These vary in color from orange on the right side, to green in the center and blue on the left. Perhaps one of the most outstanding elements of the façade is the tower crowned by a ceramic hood which, in turn, is topped with a four-armed cross oriented to the cardinal points like the ones the author also made in Parc Güell. It is a bulbous shape that evokes the radical element of plant life. An immense root bulb bears a second analogous shape reminiscent of the thalamus of the flower, a flower represented by the cross with arms that are actually buds announcing an impending flowering.
The tower, where the bulb of the cross flower is “planted”, is decorated with the monograms of Jesus (JHS), Mary (M with the ducal crown) and Joseph (JHP), made of pieces of golden pottery that stand out the green background that covers the façade. These symbols show the deep religiosity of Gaudí, who chose the theme of the Sagrada Família inspired by the construction of the expiatory temple that he was doing simultaneously with this work. The cuculla and the cross were made in Mallorca and when they arrived it had some of the pieces broken, perhaps from transport. Despite the manufacturer’s commitment to making the broken pieces again, Gaudí considered this trencadís aesthetic attractive and asked the mason to glue them with lime mortar and fasten them with a bronze ring.
The central part presents an attractive and poetic design of aquatic themes that evokes the surface of a lake with water lilies, typical of Monet’s Nymphéas, with soft undulations and reflections produced by glass and pottery in brittle. It is a large wavy surface covered with a plaster of fragments of colored glass combined with 330 round polychrome ceramic discs that had been designed between Gaudí and Jujol testing during their stays in Mallorca, when they were working on the reform of the Palma Cathedral. Some of these remaining records were reused on the bank of Parc Güelland at the source of the garden of the “house of the priest”, in the Colònia Güell.
The railings of the balconies are made of cast iron and for their design Gaudí made a life-size model in the workshops of the Sagrada Família before passing it to the smelter. There are eight pieces, seven equal and one larger that is on the small terrace to the left of the top floor. They are painted ivory and have helically twisted handrail steel strips to cover the holes. The balconies on the first floor and the two on the second floor above the grandstands have helical balustrades and Carrara marble railings embedded in the lobed stone structure of Montjuïc and with a sober floral decoration. Finally, at the top of the central part of the façade there is a smaller balcony, also made of cast iron, which corresponds to the exterior exit of the attic and has a different aesthetic from the rest, closer to a water lily flower that floats in Monetary Lake; on either side, two iron arms allowed pulleys to be installed to move furniture up and down.
This central part of the façade is, without a doubt, the most interesting and most discussed contribution. According to Ignasi de Solà-Morales, the design of the façade is by Gaudí (curved shapes, skulls on the balconies, dragon crest, etc.), but the solution of the color was in charge of Jujol, in whom Gaudí trusted the domain of color.
The façade of the main floor, made entirely of sandstone, shows rounded shapes supported by two columns with a shaft that widens triangularly at its top without forming a capital and that form three large gaps. The design is complemented by elegant carpentry on the windows combined with multicolored leaded stained glass. In front of the large windows, as if they were props supporting the complex stone structure, there are six thin columns simulating two long limb bones, femurs or humerus., with an apparent central articulation that is actually a floral decoration. The rounded shapes of the gaps and the appearance of the lips with which the stone around them is worked gives them a look close to a fully open mouth, which is why it was described as the “house of yawns”. On the first floor the structure and design of the two windows at the ends are repeated forming galleries, but above the large central window are the two balconies described above.
For Bassegoda, in Gaudí’s work the fragments suggest continuity; its façade could extend laterally indefinitely as opposed to the enclosed space of the regular polyhedra that make up traditional buildings.
Lobby and stairs
The main entrance is sober, closed by wrought iron doors painted ivory and gold similar to balconies, a painting made of cherry that Gaudí had used on other occasions to protect against oxidation. The other gaps in the ground floor correspond to the access to the basement, two windows with basement vents that would have been made of coal pits and the trade door on the ground floor. Originally, only the staircase door was made of iron, like the current one, as the doors of the basement and the shop were made of wood by the Eudald Puntí house on Carrer de la Cendra. Currently all have iron enclosures homogeneous to the main entrance. The lobby is decorated with a ceramic walkway with light blue and white pieces. In the background is a small distributor, at the base of one of the interior courtyards that provides natural lighting. From this distributor, with a small door, comes the elegant modernist elevator, the staircase that goes up to all floors and a majestic staircase that leads exclusively to the main floor.
The staircase of neighbors goes up surrounding the elevator and in the middle of the two inner patios, which confers an unusual light to the stairs, habitually located like a closed and dark central box. Here, on the other hand, the staircase is not enclosed by walls, but by railings and a translucent glass structure. On each landing there are two oak doors carved with gouge, with a golden letter of Gaudí calligraphy painted on the upright and indicating the floor in question, an alternative formula to the traditional numbering of floor and door. The letters range from “A” to “I”. Gaudí’s “G” has a special spelling. The main staircase that allows direct access to the main floor, home of the Batllós, starts from a private lobby at the bottom of the entrance, about 20 square meters with wavy walls that, without any corners or corners, form a continuum with the roof giving it the visual appearance of a natural cavity. Two large glass skylights decorated with hexagons, as if they were a honeycomb, bring light to the space.
The majestic staircase is made of oak wood and incorporates pieces cut at the end of the steps that evoke the vertebrae of a prehistoric animal. The concatenation of these pieces in a sinuous spiral that rotates almost 180 ° make up the spine of the giant monster in its cave. The handrail, which runs along the entire staircase, has at its ends decorative elements formed by a metal pole with a red glass sphere surrounded by two iron ribbons holding a crown on the sphere.
The loft is considered to be one of the most unusual spaces. It was formerly a service area for the tenants of the different apartments in the building which contained laundry rooms and storage areas. It is known for its simplicity of shapes and its Mediterranean influence through the use of white on the walls. It contains a series of sixty catenary arches that creates a space which represents the ribcage of an animal. Some people believe that the “ribcage” design of the arches is a ribcage for the dragon’s spine that is represented in the roof.
The first floor is different from the other floors and required a very important intervention. It was the home of the Batllós and Gaudí paid special attention to it with an interesting arrangement of the ceilings and a very elaborate decoration, playing with lights and shadows in the different spaces and giving wavy shapes to all the partitions. The façade here is of stone, with a gallery where the windows have wavy and totally different shapes and the pillars take the form of bones with joints. It is accessed directly from the main staircase, at the back of the lobby. At the end of this winding staircase you come to a hall that acts as a distributor; behind a first door you reach the fireplace room, made in the Ramon Reguant workshops. It is a room at the service of the aesthetics of this home that, embedded in the wall, has two benches in front of it, on either side of the mouth of the fire.
The whole set is circumscribed under an arch with a mushroom profile made of refractory stoneware. This design with seats in front of the fire symbolizes the union of the family and is inspired by the cooking spaces of the rural farmhouses where under a large smoke outlet was located the fire, the hanging cauldron and seats for sitting. there by the fire. The urban version of this app would aim to have a “collected” space to party couples, on one of the benches, reserving the other for the person who “acted as a candle” and cared about morality.Casa Burés in Barcelona have fireplaces with benches in front, although with a much more modernist decoration, unlike the rustic taste that Gaudí wanted to give to this room. The rest of the walls are stuccoed and include gold leaf making a kind of crackle that simulates the drawings of a mosaic. From this kind of anteroom, the living rooms of the main façade are accessed through wide doors of exaggeratedly wavy shapes, made of oak wood with leaded glass.
The large central living room is a large open space located in the central part of the main façade. Its winding profile window was designed to “see and be seen” with oculi at the bottom, a decoration based on round stained glass windows of different shades of blue at the top and, in the central strip, open windows. of guillotine that are opened by means of a set of counterweights that are hidden in the ends. There are no uprights between these windows and when they are opened all at once they leave the view of the street without any visual obstacles. This solution would later be used in the design of Le Corbusier’s “running window” at Villa Savoye. The whole of this window corresponds, in fact, to the gallery that protrudes approximately one meter from the load – bearing wall of the façade, which is supported by arches that rest on four interior columns that almost go unnoticed.
On each side of the living room there are two smaller rooms that look out onto the street through the side windows of the large shop window which is the window on this floor. The one on the right is a more intimate living room which is also accessed from the fireplace room, which is communicated with the central by means of undulating oak doors also with circular glass discs that can be opened. is completely to form a single environment. The roof is a flat sky with a swirl-shaped plaster relief that recalls the marine setting of the house and suggests the idea of nature’s generation. In the center of the spiral is a spectacular lamp that, while not currently the original piece, its design gives us a heliocentric view of the ceiling of the space.
At the other end of the floor, facing the rear façade towards the terrace, is the Batlló’s private dining room. Its carpentry and glass facade was dismantled for functional reasons when the building was dedicated to offices. In 1991 a reproduction was made that allows us to see the room today with the same original image. The shape of the flat sky of this room has the shape of the splash produced by a drop with the drops it generates forming a crown. Near the exit to the garden are a pair of twin columns inspired by those of the Courtyard of the Lions of the Alhambra in Granada, with the base and capital rounded, morbid, as if worn by erosion. They are plastered on the fire with a crackle similar to that found in other rooms, but in this case with a polychrome combination with warm, pastel colors.
Inside the large hall on the main floor overlooking the façade of Passeig de Gràcia was an oratory located in the concave shape of the back wall; it was closed with large wooden panels that made it easy to convert the living room into a chapel, a solution that Gaudí had already used in the Palau Güell. It contained a small altar and an oak altarpiece with a Sagrada Familia made by Josep Llimona i Bruguera, where the teenage Jesus is seen kissing the hand of Saint Joseph in front of a carpenter’s table while the Virgin observes the scene. In the golden frame of the altarpiece designed by Gaudí appears the word “amen” written at the top and vertically on each side, along with the anagram “WYD” in reference to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. There was also a metal crucifix by the Tarragona sculptor Carles Mani i Roig, some chandeliers by Josep Maria Jujol and some sacraments by Joan Matamala.
The crucifix of the Christ of the Expiration made by Mani had been made following Gaudí’s studies on the exact position of the body of those condemned to the cross, a subject on which the architect had made several models in plaster, one of they are preserved in the Gaudí house-museum in Parc Güell. The altarpiece was dismantled and remained in the possession of the family, in Madrid, for many years, and since 2001 it has been in the Sagrada Familia museum.
The inner courtyards are one of the most innovative elements of the structural reform of the building. The architect understood that in order to constitute a unitary space attractive to human sensitivity it was necessary to suppress the dazzles that could break the whole and decided to compensate for the natural differences in lighting between the upper and lower with an ingenious gradient of the color of the ceramic that covers the walls that goes from the cobalt blue to the white, of top to bottom, obtaining in an early chromatic conditioning procedure an effect of uniform color when contemplating it from the ground floor. Applying the same logic Gaudí conceived the larger windows as they are below. In addition, the 32 windows facing the inner courtyards have at the bottom a booklet shutter that allows you to regulate the entry of fresh air from the courtyards without opening the windows.
The upper part of the courtyards has a glass roof about 30 cm high. to allow ventilation, while insulating the interior of the patios from rain. The glass windows on the roof, located on two sides, are supported in the center on a masonry structure that crosses the courtyard and allows traffic to be accessed to clean the glass. The carpentry that gives to the celobert is a combination of pine melis in the interior and, in the outside, of chestnut tree.
The rear façade is adorned with multicolored trencadís drawing garlands and bouquets of flowers as if they were climbers climbing from the terrace at its base. The crowning presents an undulating form of great dynamism that once again recalls the marine inspiration of the entire Batlló work. The whole trencadís of this upper part of the façade has a unique expressive capacity and very vivid colors in the floral motifs that are represented. The railings of the balconies are made of wrought iron except for the upper floor which is made of stone and is also decorated entirely with trencadís, so that the observation from the lower terrace visually links the decorations of the railing and the crown in a single large multicolored carpet.
At the foot of this façade is the terrace of the main floor, which is reached from the dining room through a passage between two large skylights that provide light to the basement and that give the passage an air of drawbridge. a castle that unites the exterior and interior. On either side of the passage, as if it were the castle walls, complex grilles in rounded shapes, in clear parallelism with the windows that protect, surround the entire rear façade up to about 3 meters high.
The perimeter of the terrace is separated from the buildings next door by an enclosure of bars of the same bill as those that protect the facade. In the background, a wall of corrugated profile with which it crowns the rear façade, separates the estate from the view of the interior of the block. It is decorated with trencadís on its forehead and right in the center, in front of the exit door to the terrace, a large mural made of paraboloid-shaped trencadís recalls the shapes of the attic arches. From the trencadís, as if they were natural protuberances, there are unique planters made of ceramic discs from those on the main façade that help to give it a hanging garden personality. Spread over the terrace are portable planters made of blue and white ceramics mounted on wrought iron legs.
The great colorful, kaleidoscopic effect of its pavement made of Reus stoneware that had been part of the interior pavement of the flats before the renovation and that Gaudí reused without following, however, the original layout, but left it free of the pallets. A combination forming a border joins the exit door with the paraboloid brittle of the back wall as if it were a large carpet.
Above the top floor are large attics where Gaudí shows the application of the parabolic arch as a supporting structure for the roof, a form that he had also used shortly after joining the wooden frames. of the Mataró cooperative known as “L’Obrera Mataronense”. In this case, Gaudí used the Catalan technique of flat brick, imported from Italy in the fourteenth century. In the attic there were service rooms and laundry rooms in an open room under a roof in a Catalan vault supported by 60 parabolic arches that look like the ribs of a huge animal, distributed in two long corridors that surround the inner courtyards and, in the peripheral part of the building, the different rooms are located. On the side of the façade there is a large room dedicated to spreading clothes and currently known as The Dragon’s Belly where the arches are very wide, forming a unique space. The whole plant enjoys a light that produces extraordinary plays of light and shadow.
The base of the attic floor, that is, the roof of the lower floor, is made of iron beams on which the brick and braced iron structures that form the arches are supported. These transmit the load to the ends of the beams and these, in vertical direction, to the load-bearing walls. This prevents the structure of the arches from transmitting stresses to the outside. Above the arches, vaulted vaults create a diaphragmatic space and roof tiles that form the roof.
The roof contains four sets of 6.10-meter-high chimneys covered with fragments of glass and polychrome trencadís with floral patterns that, as a whole, is an intermediate between the chimney forest of the Palau Güell (1888) and the Casa Milà. (1910). Its special design prevents the air from blowing back. The roof of the Casa Batlló, one of the most spectacular creations of Gaudí’s plastic art, is the largest piece of polychrome sculpture. Built on the parabolic arches of the attic, it is a rectangular space divided in its center by the skylights of the inner courtyards. At the front there is a large room where the water tanks were installed and which coincides with the highest part of the façade. With this design Gaudí managed to give an aesthetic sense – the wavy and sandy back of the dragon – to a functional requirement of the time when running water was lacking enough pressure to provide the required comfort conditions. If the outer view of the crown simulated the scales of a dragon, the inner side that acts as a roof railing looks like the shell.
The chimneys on the roof are grouped together as if they were mushroom handles with a small Solomonic twist that gives it a dynamism and expressiveness typical of a sculpture. Each of the smoke outlets, with a square profile, is covered by a hood with a very sharp pyramidal volume, with a steep slope that allows rainwater to be distributed, while evoking the top of the commemorative obelisks. At the tip are spheres that bounce raindrops, a figure reminiscent of the pots that are placed on top of the poles of the barns. Originally, these balls were made of glass and were filled with colored sand; in the 1983 restoration they were replaced by the current cement and inlaid glass.
The chimneys are decorated and, at the same time, protected by a trencadíspolychrome glass and ceramic with a watery tonal quality, reminiscent of clouds, rain… In total there are twenty-six chimneys distributed in four groups: a first group with eight chimneys behind the water tank room, that is, behind the crowning of the façade;; the third group with six more on the sea side, near the Amatller house, halfway between the façade and the bottom; a fourth group with four chimneys on the same level as the latter but on the mountain side, currently attached to the neighboring house since they built two additional floors.
Gaudí conceives the building as nature, that is, as a living organism, where each element is alive and fulfills a function that, far from being merely passive, like the Gothic buttresses, is dynamic. That is, it is both a sustained and sustaining part of the work that, above all, is a unity. An organic architecture, which in the twentieth century was tested by Le Corbusier and the functionalists. Gaudí’s forms have triumphed in the world of design and are related to indeterministic physics, with the principle of Werner Heisenberg.
According to Oriol Bohigas Gaudí, the objective rationality of the structure was never considered, but, based on a pre-established constructive criterion, it determined that form that most dramatically expressed the vicissitudes and difficulties of construction; “.. with a taste for the complexity of spaces and volumes and a desire to sacrifice the plan for organic space,” becoming an interference of spaces that blurs the boundaries of the building. This trend is especially marked in the Casa Batlló, where grandstands and balconies blur the border between interior and exterior.
Gaudí is distinguished by various constructive and spatial dispositions that seek to obtain a comfortable environment, especially with everything related to natural ventilation, perhaps following the teachings of Viollet-le-Duc in Les Entretiens. If he had experimented with these techniques at the Palau Güell, it would be at the Batlló where he developed them extensively. The author proposed this work with criteria that could be considered, in current terms, ecological architecture in the treatment of light and ventilation. As for the lighting, it has already been described how it provided a special light to the central rooms of the floors through the interior courtyards that had a large skylight and a special set of colors in the ceramics. He also used large skylights at the base of the courtyards and on the back terrace to illuminate the basement.
The distribution of the floors of the Casa Batlló, elongated between facades to take advantage of the effect of cross ventilation, was already typical in the design of the buildings of the Eixample of Barcelona. But Gaudí incorporated a series of openings in the lower parts of the windows in order to take advantage of the entry of fresh air from the summer night breezes. The solution allows to adjust the air inlet from adjustable slits and sets of sheets in the form of blinds that allow to determine the flow of air circulation between environments. These small cracks are also present in the interior doors. Gaudí himself designed the mechanisms that allow easy adjustment.from the hot air to the upper layers, where it escapes by outlets around the skylights. In addition, the heat of the air at the top, under the skylight, produces an induced circulatory effect that “pulls” the cold air from the lower layers. To get air from the main façade to the lower part of the courtyards, there are concrete pipes that run through the basement.
The attic had the function of a service space to do the laundry and spread the clothes to dry them. It was, therefore, essential to have good ventilation. Gaudí solved this by building two stairs that connect this floor and the roof, one at each end of the floor. With this separation it manages to force a cross ventilation. In addition, the rooms are surrounding the inner courtyards with which they have a small connection at the top, achieving the entry of cold air that ensures ventilation.
The building as a whole is inspired by a marine environment, an underwater enigma. The author’s naturalistic view explains this thesis with a prominent mastery of the blue of the sea and the ocher of the rocks. A blue that appears linked to the ceramic decoration, which begins with soft blue tones in the lobby that connect, internally, with the changing courtyards of intensity and, externally, with the sea of the façade. The main staircase is located in an underwater cave that leads to a noble floor that is configured as the great underwater refuge, as a fish tank from which we are observed or observed, as a submarine that allows us to isolate and protect us. An interior in which the rounded shapes of doors and windows evoke the interior floodgates of a ship and where the carvings of the oak doors present a sample of sea snakes,
The naturalistic connection of the building with a living being leads Gaudí to use similes depending on the mechanical work carried out. On long supports it uses shapes reminiscent of the humerus or femur; the bases and capitals of the pillars are reminiscent of vertebrae; the balustrades of the balconies on the first floor are phalanges and the convex, turgid grilles, made of iron handrails that protect the oculi from the iron balconies resemble the ribs. In the absence of direct documentation from Gaudí, the meaning of the shapes and colors of the façade has had several interpretations, all of them quite plausible. The resemblance of the railings of the balconies with party masks invites you to see confetti slips in the polychromy of the facade. The undulating polychrome tapestry with a predominance of green and blue colors undoubtedly has an aquatic symbolism, ranging from the lagoon of money- inspired water lilies to the transparent waters of the Costa Brava.
Lluís Permanyer’s interpretation points to a less profane and more epic vision than the previous ones, and places the symbolism around Saint George’s fight against the dragon, representative of evil, whose spine forms the upper profile of the façade. main building. The tower would be the spear that is nailed to the dragon, the building; a spear crowned by a cross that symbolizes the banner of St. George and with the initials of the Sagrada Família inscribed, an unequivocal symbol of the triumph of religiosity and good. The blue scales of the dragon’s back turn red – stained with blood – on the left side of the tower. In this interpretation the balconies are fragments of skulls and the pillars of the main floor windows are the bones of the dragon victims.
The set of windows on the main floor outlines the image of a bat with open wings. It is an animal linked to medieval Catalan symbolism popularized by King James the Conqueror who, according to legend based on the Book of Facts, reminded him of a bat that prevented a defeat of the Crown of Aragon on the brink of Burriana and allowed the conquest of Valencia.
However, the most likely origin of this animal as a symbol lies in the vibrio of the Royal Summit of Peter the Ceremonious. The vibria was a dragon that used to crown the coats of arms of some important Mediterranean cities, such as Palma, Valencia and Barcelona. From the seventeenth century onwards, the image of the viburnum began to transform, identifying itself with a bat from which it eventually took its shape. This progressive transformation in heraldry was fully imposed during the nineteenth century, cornering almost completely the vibria. At that time, with the impetus of the Renaissance, the image of the bat was widely disseminated by the modernist movement, appearing on the covers of periodicals such as Lo Gay Saber and Revista de Catalunya. On the coat of arms of Barcelona the bat appeared in the early nineteenth century and remained until well into the twentieth century. Thus, the bat as an evolution of the winged dragon is hagiographically related to the figure of St. George.
On the main floor many forms transport you to a fantastic world, as if inspired by myths or adventure books and expeditions so fashionable in the late nineteenth century. Some of the animals depicted or the interior shapes of the noble floor appear to be taken from Alphonse de Neuville’s illustrations in the 1870 edition of Jules Verne’s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The “dragon’s eye” formed by the small triangular window is inspired by the Roca Foradada on the mountain of Montserrat. Gaudí, apart from his religious feeling, knew well the mountain where he made the First Mystery of Glory of the Monumental Rosary of Montserrat. The shape of the flat sky of the dining room of the noble floor has the shape of a splash with the drops it generates from which the expansive waves of creation are generated.
Casa Batlló is a vanitas on display in the most luxurious promenade in Barcelona and remembering, through the overflowing luxury of the bourgeoisie, the transience of all things and their death. On the other hand, death is the beginning of transformation, of eternal metamorphosis like the mobile perpetuum represented by the whirlpool where time devours matter and matter always returns through chaos. Spiral shapes such as nebulae associated with the generation of the universe, its creation. The most prominent form is on the ceiling of the living room of the noble floor, but can also be seen on some tympanums of interior doors. The main staircase is clearly the spine of a prehistoric animal inside its cave. From the joints of the bone-shaped columns on the outside of the gallery of the noble floor, fleshy plants sprout. Gaudí alludes to the constant regeneration of creation.
Gaudí designed for the Batlló house the panot Gaudí, a hydraulic pavement made by Escofet, of hexagonal pieces of blue color and marine motifs that had to be on the floor of the Batlló bedroom to finish creating a marine atmosphere, but in the end it was not used. An alga of the genus sargassum, an ammonite and an echinoderm are represented. Although he paid for it in Batlló, Gaudí recovered it and placed it in the Milà house. Over time, the Gaudíha panot became a sign of identity and is the pavement of the sidewalks of Passeig de Gràcia. It had been designed in gray wax by Joan Bertran, under the supervision of Gaudí who “retouched with his own fingers”, in the words of the builder Josep Bayó.
Gaudí was a bold designer of decorative elements for some of his houses; he made furniture, grilles, handles, peepholes, and other decorative pieces. Gaudí’s furniture is like sculptures that, like his architecture, begin with a neo-Gothic period around the end of the 1870s, where he made what is considered his first piece of furniture, his own desk destroyed during the civil war. In the same line is the furniture of the nuns of Jesus and Mary and that of Comillas. Between 1887 and 1888 he made the first piece for a client, a chaise longue for the Palau Güell, a piece of furniture where he replaced the traditional wooden structure with an innovative iron housing. This innovation would later be applied to some upholstered furniture of the Calvet house, preserving voluminous tapestries that tend to a certain neo-Rococo that, under the name of style Pompadour, attracted the bourgeoisie of the time.
This use of iron and the lack of rectilinear moldings had a great influence on cabinetmakers of the time such as Joan Busquets and Jané who applied it to the chaise longue he made for Madame Bringas in 1899. In a second period he made a radical rethink based on the evolution of the Bavarian chair that had become fashionable in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. He first proposed a conventional design in terms of structure, but with a rounding at the junction of the seat and back, a unique solution developed in 1890. But the best known solution that he developed as a result of the orders of the Calvet and the Batlló consisted of raising the backrest and the seat in two separate pieces, a solution that swallows the skirts of the levitas and the feminine skirts, avoiding in this way that they are crushed, as it happened previously.
Visible joints of the legs in the Bavarian chair made with eyelet and wick were replaced by invisible couplings and with conically shaped legs. It also improves the comfort of the backrests with a concavity obtained by angled coupling of several flat pieces of wood. He added yet another differentiating factor: he made all solid oak furniture, a light wood that replaced the darker shades of mahogany, rosewood, or black-tinted furniture widely used in nineteenth- century cabinetmaking. Many contemporary architects followed this trend in a kind of recognition of the wood of medieval furniture, praised by Viollet-le-Duc in his writings.
The furniture designed for Casa Batlló was originally intended for the main dining room. The collection consisted of a table, two double benches, another of three and a set of chairs. The dimensions of the chair are 74 cm. of backrest height, 45 cm. of height of the sidewalk, 52 cm. wide and 47 cm. background; it is slightly lower and with less bottom than the Calvet chair. The dimensions of the bench are 103 cm. of backrest height, 45 cm. of bench height, 170 cm. wide and 81 deep; it was considerably larger than the one designed for the Calvet house. His works for the Calvet house have curvilinear and alveolar shapes, a decoration of a naturalistic vitalism. On the other hand, in Casa Batlló, decorativism gives way to the organism that assimilates its works to a living organism.
For the furniture of the Casa Batlló, the architect proposed a hitherto unpublished design, with a type of seat that looks for the rounded shapes of human morphology; he removed the superfluous upholstery and ornamentation of the time and opted for the shape and color of the bare wood. A forerunner of ergonomic designs, it seeks to break with academic repertoires and advances industrial design, as other contemporary architects such as Victor Horta, Mackintosh and Saarinen would later do. The dining room chair is of small proportions and low in height, breaking with the bulky chairs as if they were seats used in many bourgeois dining rooms. Minimizes the number of parts that make it up that are assembled in a simpler and more unitary than the previous pieces. All shapes are rounded; the legs slightly helical with a substantially parabolic profile.
The seat seems to overflow to the sides under the pressure of someone sitting down. The backrest, with a slightly concave shape to fit the back, is finished with a crossbar finished in a kind of handle with a circular recess as if it had yielded to the pressure of the fingers and offering a small grip to help lift the heavy chair. Gaudí succeeds in imposing form on matter, turning it into a recipient of its qualities. According to Juan José Lahuerta “matter disappears as such, it is surrendered to the strength of the artist, transformed by it”. The desire for a naturalistic adaptation of the furniture led Gaudí to ask Mrs. Batlló how many women and men there were in the family; when she wanted to know why the architect replied that the chairs she was designing would make them different to fit the anatomy. Mrs. Amalia’s reaction was a frontal rejection of the idea. The original furniture is preserved in the MNAC and in the Gaudí House Museum in Parc Güell.
Sant Jordi Day
A day of celebration where roses and books become the protagonists. The Sant Jordi festival is a day that is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy in Catalonia. On April 23 the streets of cities and towns are packed with people and stalls selling books and roses. It is about celebrating the feast of the patron saint of Catalonia and remembering this tradition based on love and culture.
The legend explains that a long time ago, in Montblanc (Tarragona) a ferocious dragon capable of poisoning the air and killing with its breath, had terrified the inhabitants of the city. The inhabitants, scared and tired of his ravages and misdeeds, decided to calm him by feeding one person a day that would be chosen by lottery. After several days, bad luck fell to the princess. As the princess was leaving her home and heading towards the dragon, a knight named Sant Jordi, in shining armor and a white horse, suddenly appeared to come to her rescue. Sant Jordi raised his sword and pierced the dragon, finally freeing the princess and the citizens. From the dragon’s blood sprouted a rosebush with the reddest roses ever seen.. Sant Jordi, triumphant, plucked a rose and offered it to the princess.
The legend has been a source of inspiration for many artists. Antoni Gaudí represented the legend of Sant Jordi in the architecture of Casa Batlló so that over the years this fantastic tradition would continue to live. The mythical legend is represented in Casa Batlló through the façade and in two specific spaces inside. On the roof, the back of the DRAGON comes to life with the ceramic tiles in the shape of scales and is crossed by the four-armed Cross that evokes the triumphant SWORD of Sant Jordi.
On the top floor we find a balcony in the shape of a flower alluding to the PRINCESS BALCONY. On the lower floors, the remains of the dragon’s victims are located through the balconies in the shape of SKULLS and the columns of the tribune that look like BONES. In the private entrance hall to the Batlló family’s home, there is a staircase whose finials are reminiscent of the vertebrae of an animal and which, according to popular culture, could refer to the spine of the DRAGON’S TAIL. Finally, in the attic, the main room with catenary arches evokes the large animal.
The awakening of the Dragon
Casa Batlló, Antoni Gaudí’s most creative work, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. To commemorate this date and within the framework of the Mercè festival, Casa Batlló shared with the entire city of Barcelona an audiovisual projection on its façade, revealing all the symbols and interpretations that inspired Antoni Gaudí when creating this work of art. On the facade of Casa Batlló there are architectural details that express numerous allegories.