Discover my visit at la Casa Batlló.
Casa Batlló, or “Maison Battló” is a building located at 43 Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, Spain. It is the work of the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and illustrates the “Modernismo”, a name given to art Nouveau in Spain. This is the total renovation of a building, carried out at the request of the industrialist Joseph Batlló between 1904 and 1906.
Casa Batlló : In 1902, Alfonso XIII restored the monarchy after a parliamentary regime. In 1888 the Spanish Universal exhibition sought to promote the country as an industrial power and to strengthen its foreign trade. Barcelona is booming industrial and economical. The most important Port of the Mediterranean rim, with blast furnaces, Barcelona is the industrial capital of the Spanish state. She then knows an important cultural and artistic development and revival. Catalan values are defended (Catalan) as well as the search for regional autonomy. The population is increasing. It is in this context that the Passeig de Gracia, the main artery of the city and the location of choice of the Catalan bourgeoisie, is born. The wealthier personalities of the bourgeoisie build their homes, designed by prestigious architects.
The textile industrialist Joseph Batlló, desiring to differentiate himself, decides to make a spectacular house there. In 1904, he commissioned Gaudí to complete the renovation of his house, which was completed in 1906. Gaudí has completely transformed the building with innovative techniques and total creative freedom, giving rise to a singular and extraordinary building. Since 2005, Casa Batlló has been listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
The house was built between 1875 and 1877 by Emilio Salas Cortés, a former professor of Gaudí. It was a sober and classic building consisting of a cellar, a ground floor, 4 floors and a garden. Mr. Battló, who acquired it in 1904, will occupy the main floor (the first) and rent out the other apartments (8) of this building as it is customary at that time in Barcelona.
The Casa Batllὀ was conceived by Gaudi as a living organism (natural links between exterior, interior and furniture). He completely remodelled the interior and exterior spaces, added floors, developed lighting and natural ventilation. The house is organized around a patio. Gaudí ‘s work is original and breaking with the past. It rejects the right angles, the symmetry, the regularity of the shapes, the uniform color. Here, its source of inspiration is nature. The undulating shapes, the varied colors, the asymmetry, nothing resembles what one used to see at the time. -The façade: the architect had the walls redone so that they would adopt a wavy shape. He covered them with lime mortar and then trencadís, colored glass and ceramic discs with changing colors. The façade gives the impression of waving; Gaudi would have been inspired by the aquatic world. The Blues (and Greens) have different intensities and recall the seabed. Ochre tones are reminiscent of rocks and natural coral. Trencadís (in Catalan: Breaks, splinters) is a term describing a type of mosaic, created from ceramic shards, typical of Catalan modernist architecture.
In Barcelona it is called “Casa dels Dalls”, “The House of Yawns” because of its oval windows similar to huge open mouths. Or the Casa de los Huesos (House of Bones) because the details of the façade evoke a skeleton: the balconies resemble fragments of skull, the columns of the Tribune from the first floor to human bones.
The façade could tell a story: The Allegory of St. George (San Jordi) killing the dragon, a recurring symbol in Gaudí’s work and emblem of Catalonia since the Middle Ages. The line of tiles reminds the spine of a large reptile, the cross that crowns the roof reminds a spear, the bones would be those of the victims.
The roof reminds the arched back of a dragon and the ceramic tiles that cover it with its scales (inside elsewhere there is a wooden staircase that strangely reminiscent of a spine, which could belong to the supposed dragon). A small triangular opening acts as an eye. The building is surmounted by a tower with the typical four-arms cross of Gaudí, very religious.
The balconies resemble holiday masks (or Venetian masks) in the midst of confetti dotted on the façade. At the top, in the middle of the attic, a smaller balcony in the shape of a lily flower reminds Monet’s nymphéas. The railings of the balconies are cast iron.
These eight pieces, seven identical and one larger; are painted ivory color and the spaces between the balusters are closed by twisted steel strips. To design them, Gaudí made a life-size model in the Sagrada Familia workshops before melting them.
The huge windows of the Grand Tribune on the first floor that advance on the passage of Gracia, made to see and be seen, make think of a bat deploying its wings. Featuring multi-colored stained glass windows set with lead, they show Gaudi’s interest in the presence of light. He works as an architect of Gothic cathedrals.
The interior: The staircase reminds the gigantic spine of a giant wavy animal. Organic elements are reminiscent of cellular tissues. In the room is a mushroom-shaped chimney. On the ceiling of the living room a whirlwind is formed as a lamp reminiscent of a sea storm, repeating itself on the wavy walls. The handles of the windows in this room appear to be fish fins. Many cells similar to cell tissues are again appearing. At the ceiling of the dining room, the architect drew an element in the form of water droplets.
In the central courtyard, Gaudi wanted to get a homogeneous light and bluish tones as if it were the bottom of the sea. The glass screens of the bearings give a sensation of sea in motion accentuated by wooden guardrails in light ripple. The attic which serves as a service area (laundry, storeroom…) looks like a rib cage of a gigantic animal.
The roof terrace: The whole world of Gaudi is suggested and evokes the laws of nature. The ventilation towers and chimney exits are similar to plant forms. It decorates them with flowers and gives them a sinuous shape such as sea waves or waves. Their headdresses give them a form of mushrooms.
A major work by the great Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, the Casa Batlló illustrates the ornamental and naturalistic research of art Nouveau or Modernismo Spanish. It is also a very original work, conceived as a living organism, from the structure to the furniture, full of fantasies and symbols. Gaudi rejects the symmetry and the straight line, it waves its polychrome facade to the light as a large animal and mixes the use of traditional Catalan materials and techniques as the trencadís to innovative research on light and Ventilation of living spaces.