At Paseig de Gracia 43, lies a sleeping giant of modernist architecture, Casa Batllo. Its appearance is as amorphous as the free flowing lines and shape of the building itself. Depending on the weather and lighting Casa Batllo may change colors and leave an entirely different impression on the viewer. One critic describes the building façade as, having the same effect as a throwing a stone into a pool of water lilies. Many others believe the façade is an allegory for the Catalan legend of St. George, known for travels around medieval Spain slaying dragons. It is a testament to the celebrated architect, Antoni Gaudi, that one building could be so inspiring in so many ways. He accomplished this end by effectively sampling natural forms. The building is composed of disarming familiar natural forms, but they are arranged in a completely new and surreal way. Furthermore, these forms lend themselves to a myriad of individualized interpretations dependent upon the interpreter. All of this is just the beginning, in my opinion, of what makes Casa Batllo the premier building exemplifying the modernism movement in Barcelona.
Casa Batllo was commissioned by Josep Batllo Casanovas in 1900 and constructed from 1904-1906. He employed Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi, and building contractor, Josep Bayo Font. His original intention was demolishing the building and starting anew. However, Gaudi was able to convince Batllo that a refurbishment was possible. I believe the fact that Casa Batllo was a refurbishment and not a complete new construction served Gaudi well. It gave him the constraints and restrictions of an existing structure that challenged him to create the best solutions within the context of an existing problem. It also prevented some of the more criticized aspects of his designs from surfacing, as this was evident with the negative critical reaction to Casa Mila, or “La Pedrera.” It is important to understand the context of the...
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