Friday, February 12, 2010

Casa Batllo

On Tuesday, I went to visit the Casa Batllo (baht-gioh) on Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona. Probably more than any other building, except maybe the Gamble House by Greene and Greene in Pasadena, California (and probably two or three others that I can’t think of right now) I was left saying “wow…wow…wow…” at each turn. I know that the Sagrada Familia is supposed to be Gaudi’s masterpiece but this house is just full of amazing features that show his true abilities up close. From the outside during the day…

…and at night…

…to the inside, the house is an amazing work.

Casa Batllo was a remodel of an existing house in the Exiample (shahm-plah) area of town. Gaudi started work on the house in 1904 and completed it in 1906. The house, as with other works by Gaudi, is a prime example of the Modernist movement that was popular in the area during this time. The theme used for the house was something of an under-water one much like 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and, of course, has very few straight lines. This room has a ceiling that has a whirlpool-type design and the doors that show his use of stained glass and curves:

Here’s a fantasy-styled mushroom-shaped fireplace that I liked:

This photo shows how the same themes and use of materials are carried throughout:

The house is seven stories (counting the basement and attic) and features a light well to bring light and ventilation to all the internal rooms. Gaudi designed this light well to have the tiles get darker blue as they get higher up to make the light consistent throughout the house.

I liked this shot of the elevator area at the base of the light well because it really shows the whole nautical theme he was going for:

As with the Padrera I wrote about earlier, he used arch-like structures to hold up the roof of the house. This area is on the top floor and houses laundry and storage areas.

An interesting feature is how he was able to incorporate the use of angled panels that allow fresh air and light into the building but provide privacy and keep things water tight. Here’s a close-up of this simple but excellent idea:

This stairway leads to the roof where there’s a great outdoor area:

Also as with the Pedrera, Gaudi made the chimneys an artistic part of the house. This shows and example along with how he used broken tile to cover all the irregular shapes:

And, of course, the use of a four-“armed” cross as he did in all his buildings:

Finally, here’s a shot from the roof towards the street that shows some of the building materials and surfaces:

Casa Batllo is located about four blocks from the hotel I stayed at and was the first Modernist/Gaudi building that I saw after arrival in Barcelona. I wish these photos could do the place justice but, trust me, the place is an amazing site both inside and outside. I have a great appreciate for Antonio Gaudi and the whole Modernist movement that I didn’t even know existed one week ago.

…now I know what to do with my first $100 million!

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