Photo by Sara Terrones – Wikimedia

Top 10 Facts about Casa Batlló, Spain


 

Casa Batlló is a popular landmark at the heart of Barcelona. It is located on Paseo de Gracia and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This building is a representation of Antoni Gaudi’s modernism work. More than a million tourists visit this cultural attraction annually.

Antoni Gaudi is credited with designing some of the most bizarre and fairy-tale like buildings. Other popular buildings designed by Gaudi are Park Guell, Casa Mila, Sagrada Familia, Casa Vicens.

Casa Batllo used to be a residential property owned by the Batllo family. After the death of the parents, the children left the property under the care of the government.

Read more about Casa Batllo in the top 10 facts below.

1. The locals know Casa Batllo as House of Bones

Photo by ChristianSchd – Wikimedia

The locals know Casa Batllo as Casa dels ossos or House of Bones in English. This is because of its skeletal and animal-like appearance.

A look at the building’s façade, one will see a close resemblance of a sleeping dragon. The roof is arched and covered in tiles resembling the scales of a large dragon.  

There is a small turret to the left of the roof. Some locals believe it represents Saint George, the patron saint of Catalonia.

Located on the Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample district this bizarre building forms part of a row of houses known as the Block of Discord. These buildings were designed by Modernista architects of Barcelona.

2. It was originally known as Paseo de Gracia

The Batllo Family. photo by Anaïs Napoleon – Wikimedia

This house was bought by Josep Batlló in 1903. He was the only one who was not bothered by the design of the house, something that put off most buyers.

Batllo and his family like the location of the house. It was close to most of the amenities and places in the city.

Back in the 20th century, Passeig de Gracia was a very lush and posh neighbourhood.

The Batlló family was very popular in Barcelona and had a successful business in the textile industry. He owned a number of factories in the city.

Although he loved the location of the house, Batllo wanted the design of the house changed.

He wanted a unique design that would make the house stand out. Antoni Gaudi was commissioned and was allowed to be as creative as he wanted.

3. Casa Batllo has several curves and waves

Antoni Gaudi. Photo sourced from Wikimedia

Antoni Gaudi preferred curves to straight lines. This is notable on the façade of the building as well as the interior.

Gaudi was inspired by nature and in his argument, there were no straight lines or right angles in nature. He was therefore not going to defy nature.

Stones were used on the façade of the building. They take the shape of soft waves in the sea. It also creates a special light effect.

The building gets an alluring effect in the morning light and in the evening too. Casa Batllo is indeed a typical example of modernist architecture.     

4. Casa Batllo was redesigned

The original house was built in 1877 and did not look anything close to what we see today.

Its design was a typical eclectic style of that time, which made it unattractive amongst other houses in that neighbourhood.

The house had 4 floors and a basement, there was a garden too. Its current design is credited to Antoni Gaudí who was the pioneer of Catalan modernism or Art Nouveau.

This style is very distinct since it prefers the use of rich decoration and used asymmetry and organic themes.

There are other noteworthy modernist buildings in Barcelona like Lluís Domènech i Montaner’s Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, as well as Josep Puig i Cadafalch’s Casa Martí, now home to the Els Quatre Gats restaurant.

5. The original building was designed by Antonio Gaudi’s professor

Photo by FrancoisLagunas – Wikimedia

The original building was built in 1877 by Emilio Sala Cortés who was Gaudí’s architecture professor.

His design considered allowing enough natural light into the house since there was no electric light in Barcelona.

Although it was a typical design in Barcelona, not many people loved it. In 1903 it was purchased by Mr Josep Batlló y Casanovas, a prominent businessman in Barcelona.

Batllo wanted the house re-designed, his initial suggestion was to have the entire building knocked down.

This idea was changed by Gaudi who transformed the building’s design using his creativity.  

6. The initial plan was to demolish the entire building

Mr Josep Batlló granted full creative responsibility to Antoni Gaudí, a creative architect who designed La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Gaudi did not want to demolish the building as was suggested by Batllo. It took Gaudi 2 years to fully renovate the building, he started in 1904 and finished in 1906.

He changed the façade of Casa Batllo as well as the interior. Gaudi rearranged the internal partitioning, expanded the patio lights making the entire building functional.

The Batllo family lived in the building until the 1950s. they lived in the Noble Hall which was the main apartment.    

7. Natural light illuminates Casa Batllo

Photo by Mstyslav Chernov – Wikimedia

The original building made use of natural light since there was no electric power.

Still, on this idea, Antonio Gaudi expanded the Patio of Lights. He created a double courtyard that allowed light and ventilation throughout the house.

One thing that Gaudi never lost sight of was the functionality of the house. Gaudi included aesthetics that complemented each other.

Natural light illuminates every corner of the house thanks to the skylight and the two patios. The upper patio has smaller windows while the lower one has larger windows.  

Gaudi was very creative in incorporating colour on the patios. The upper patio has dark tiles while the lower one has lighter coloured ones.

8. Antonio Gaudi was inspired by nature and the sea

Gaudí was so inspired by nature and he executed this in every building project he was commissioned.

From the outside, Casa Batlló appears like a living organism. The entrance hall to Casa Batlló has a wooden railing made of one single piece.

This was a handcrafted masterpiece that suggests the backbone of a large sea mammal. Further, the upper section of the building has curves and arches that give the impression of being inside the belly of a whale.

The stone base of the façade of Casa Batllo resembles the waves of a calm sea. When it gets hit by light, it shows off the impressive soft elements of the façade, especially in the morning.  

9. Casa Batllo lost in prestigious architectural awards

Casa Batllo was not the only building being renovated at the time. There were several other buildings that were also getting a facelift.

These buildings were being worked on by very prominent architects. The Barcelona City Council held a competition for the urban awards.

This award was held during a period known as The Bone of Contention. The architects were expected to showcase their best modernist styles.

Although Casa Batllo was nominated for this award, it lost.  

10. Gaudi’s design for Casa Batllo almost got rejected

Photo by Sara Terrones – Wikimedia

Just like any building, the design and layout plan needs to be approved by the local government.

Being the creative he was, Gaudi planned several features for Casa Batllo. Some of these designs were not what the local government was used to.

He received a lot of opposition and his design was discussed in great detail by the local government. Luckily, his design was approved at the end. It took him two years to renovate Casa Batllo.

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