Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló is a renowned building located in the center of Barcelona and is one of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces.

The house was bought by Josep Batlló in 1900. The design of the house made the home undesirable to buyers but the Batlló family decided to buy the place due to its centralized location. It is located in the middle of Passeig de Gracia, which in the early 20th century was known as a very prestigious and fashionable area. It was an area where the prestigious family could draw attention to themselves.

In 1906 Josep Batlló still owned the home. The Batlló family was very well known in Barcelona for its contribution to the textile industry in the city. Mr. Josep Batlló I Casanovas was a textile industrialist who owned a few factories in the city. Mr. Batlló married Amalia Godo Belaunzaran, from the family that founded the newspaper La Vanguardia. Josep wanted an architect that would design a house that was like no other and stood out as being audacious and creative. Both Josep and his wife were open to anything and they decided not to limit Gaudí. Josep did not want his house to resemble any of the houses of the rest of the Batlló family, such as Casa Pía, built by the Josep Vilaseca. He chose the architect who had designed Park Güell because he wanted him to come up with a risky plan. The family lived on the Noble Floor of Casa Batlló until the middle of the 1950s.

A remodel of a previously built house, it was redesigned in 1904 by Gaudí and has been refurbished several times after that. Gaudí's assistants Domènec Sugrañes i Gras, Josep Canaleta and Joan Rubió also contributed to the renovation project. The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), as it has a visceral, skeletal organic quality.

Like everything Gaudí designed, it is only identifiable as Modernisme or Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, has unusual tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work. There are few straight lines, and much of the façade is decorated with a colorful mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís). The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur. A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the lance of Saint George (patron saint of Catalonia, Gaudí's home), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.

The loft is considered to be one of the most unusual spaces. It was formerly a service area for the tenants of the different apartments in the building which contained laundry rooms and storage areas. It is known for its simplicity of shapes and its Mediterranean influence through the use of white on the walls. It contains a series of sixty Catenary arches that creates a space which represents the ribcage of an animal. Some people believe that the “ribcage” design of the arches is a ribcage for the dragon’s spine that is represented in the roof.

The noble floor is larger than seven-hundred square meters. It is the main floor of the building. The noble floor is accessed through a private entrance hall that utilizes skylights resembling tortoise shells and vaulted walls in curving shapes. On the noble floor, there is a spacious landing with direct views to the blue tiling of the building well. On the Passeig de Gracia side is Mr. Batlló’s study, a festejador and a secluded spot for courting couples, decorated with a mushroom-shaped fireplace. The elaborate and animal-like décor continues throughout the whole noble floor.

In 2002, the house opened its doors to the public, and people were allowed to visit the noble floor. The building was opened to the public as part of the celebration of the International Year of Gaudí. Casa Batlló met with very much unanticipated success, and visitors became eager to see the rest of the house. Two years later, in celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of work on Casa Batlló the fifth floor was restored, and the house extended its visit to the loft and the well. In 2005, Casa Batlló became a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The roof terrace is one of the most popular features of the entire house due to its famous dragon back design. Gaudí represents an animal’s spine by using tiles of different colors on one side. The roof is decorated with four chimney stacks, that are designed to prevent backdraughts.

The facade has three distinct sections which are harmoniously integrated. The lower ground floor with the main floor and two first-floor galleries are contained in a structure of Montjuïc sandstone with undulating lines. The central part, which reaches the last floor, is a multicolored section with protruding balconies. The top of the building is a crown, like a huge gable, which is at the same level as the roof and helps to conceal the room where there used to be water tanks. This room is currently empty. The top displays a trim with ceramic pieces that has attracted multiple interpretations.