Casa Batlló - Barcelona - Spain

Casa Batllo Barcelona main facade
A simple reform of the facade, new distribution of the partition walls and an enlargement of the well of a building originally built in 1875, gave Gaudí the chance to undertake one of his most poetic and inspired artistic compositions. A stone thrown into a pond full of flowering water lilies would produce the same effect as that of the main facade of Casa Batllo, of an undulating surface covered with polychrome circles of glazed ceramics and different colored fragments of broken glass, the exact position of which Gaudí personally oversaw from the street.

Private strairs with form of a vertebrate spineThe double attic that culminates the facade has a twofold character: animalistic and legendary, having supplied people’s imaginations with the most outrageous interpretations of a supposed dragon fighting Saint George, although the Saint cannot be seen anywhere around, while in a small cylindrical tower which hides a spiral staircase, the anagrams are clearly seen of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in ivory-coloured  glazed ceramic, with the special Gaudian calligraphy, arranged helicoidally below a four-armed cross in Mallorca ceramics. The symbol is therefore of the Holy Family rather than Saint George.

Whirpool on the ceiling of the main roomThe façade of the first floor, which was the home of the Batlló family, is of sandstone carved with lively forms, supported by thin columns with plant motifs and it also has the elegant carpentry of the large windows and the leaded stained-glass windows and the leaded stained-glass windows of lively colors, arranged in a warped form. The joy that this project gives off can also be clearly seen in the bright and polychrome rear façade adorned with multiple broken ceramic flowers which give it a naïve and happy air, just like the chimneys on the flat roof and in the chromatic harmony of the well, covered with blue glazed tiles that darken in tone the higher up they are. If one had to define Casa Batllo in any way, it would be by saying that it is an architectural smile, an explosion of compositional pleasure by someone who is in full control of their very own personal style, which enables them to disconnect from pre-existent philosophies.

Chimney on the main floor of casa BatlloThe work undertaken, between 1904 and 1906, consisted of enlarging the inner courtyard, changing the low part of the main façade completely, changing the appearance of the front and back façades, crowning the front façade with the double attic of catenary arches and brickwork panels covered in the area of the flat roof with broken polychrome tiling and on the street part with roof tiles of fish scales in changing colors, crowned by a kind of backbone of almost spherical pieces and others in the form of half rods of different colors that, from one end to the ridge to the other have yellow, green and blue tones, with large-scale pieces. For the railings of the cast iron balconies, he made a full-size plaster model in the workshops of the Sagrada Família, which were then sent to the foundry. This ledge, repeated seven times, plus anther larger one on the small terrace on the fourth floor, is attached to the wall by means of just two anchorage, the entire railing projecting without support on the flagstone of the sculpted sandstone balcony. On the terraces there are Carrara white marble, also helicoidal in shape. The columns of Montjuïc stone of the ground floor, those the first floor and those of the two first-floor galleries, were the object of plaster model studies in order to outline the slender osseous forms decorated with plant motifs. The result was five hollow spaces that seem like mouths, which gave the building the popular name of the “House of yawns”.

Blue walls in the inner courtyard skylight at casa Batllo
The courtyard is covered with a two-sided skylight supported with laminated iron parabolic arches. This latter floor was initially used for services and laundries but, in 1983, the lower attic was restored and turned into a small museum. The rest of the floor has been accessible since 1998 on extending the lift situated in the courtyard and can be visited by tourists, as an anteroom to the route via the flat roof where one can see the polychromed chimneys.

ceramic polychromed chimneys on the roof by gaudiIn the 1991 restoration, the dining room recovered its original appearance, but without the table, chairs and benches that were acquired by the Friends of Gaudí and are today on show in the Gaudí House-Museum in Park Güell.Ceramic decorations on the roof of Casa Batllo

Text source: Gaudi The Entire Works

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