Along the sun-kissed cobbled streets of Barcelona, the colorful Art Nouveau creations of Antoni Gaudí are hard to miss. From the iconic Sagrada Familia to the enchanting mosaic architecture of Park Güell, the esteemed architect’s presence is keenly felt across the city. Now, more than 130 years since it was first built, the Catalan city is getting ready to welcome another Gaudí creation to the fold – Casa Vicens.
In addition to being one of the starting points of Gaudí’s career, Casa Vicens stands as one of the “first examples of the aesthetic renewal of art and architecture which was taking place all around Europe in the late 19th century,” explains Joan Abellà , Director of the Casa Vicens project. Built in the 1880’s as a summer home for a wealthy broker dealer, the details of Casa Vicens, from the multi-colored plaster mocárabe ceilings, to the green, blue and gold polychrome papier-mâché tiles, are indeed reflective of the 19th century penchant for Oriental design. “All this ornamentation takes us immediately into the imaginary world of exotic far-off places. A true oriental oasis of leisure and relaxation.”
Historical restoration is never easy; an obligation to honor the authenticity of the initial project alongside the difficulties of recreating the original methods used to construct the building in question pose key challenges in any such venture.
With Casa Vicens, the architectural team had to contend with the added complication of actually “recovering and showcasing the original house as designed by Antoni Gaudí, given that the building and estate have undergone numerous transformations since they were first built.” In 1925 for instance, the single family home was turned into three separate dwellings by Gaudí’s friend, Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez. Later, in the 1940’s and again in the 1960’s, Casa Vicens’ gardens and land were sold off, resulting in the loss of its original waterfall and the Sant Rita Chapel.
Weighing in on the cultural importance of Gaudí and Casa Vicens, one of the lead architects of the project, José Antonio Martínez Lapeña, notes that Gaudí’s works have gifted Barcelona with a successful legacy that has become famous and admired worldwide. “Gaudí’s architecture is so personal. It’s not easy to generate a loyal movement of followers, but yes, he has inspired me – and not just me; Gaudí has the power to inspire some of the best contemporary architects with his enthusiasm and his dedication.”
Although an opening date has yet to be announced, Gaudí fans can expect to be walking the halls of Casa Vicens by the end of the year. We can’t wait to visit in the ultimate travel meets architectural appreciation excursion!
For more like this check out our feature on ‘Old Homes, New Style’. In the meantime, there’s plenty more to see on our Pinterest so make sure to follow us for daily inspiration and home tours.