Casa Vicens, the first house designed by Antoni Gaudí, introduced the Spanish architect as an exceptional, visionary talent. Built in the late 19th century, the Barcelona home was a visual feast: it boasted rippled corners and towering turrets, and was decorated with vibrant checkerboard patterns, exposed brickwork, and intricately painted tiles. For more than a century, this marvelous work of architecture was a private residence, but as Claire Voon reports for Hyperallergic, Casa Vicens will soon open to the public as a museum.
Following a two-year renovation project, the Casa Vicens museum is scheduled to launch in October of 2017. It will host both permanent and temporary exhibitions, but the most arresting relic on display is arguably the house itself.
When he was just 31-years-old, Gaudí designed Casa Vicens as a summer residence for the tile manufacturer Manel Vicens i Montaner. Construction took place between 1883 and 1885, and as Columbia University art history professor George R. Collins wrote in Encylopaedia Britannica, Casa Vicens was inspired by the Moorish style—a uniquely Spanish aesthetic that blends Muslim and Christian designs. The house also displays Japanese and Indian influences, according to Visit Barcelona.
Casa Vicens, with its straight lines and Asian influences, stands distinct from the curvaceous, undulating structures that defined Gaudí’s later career. But according to the Casa Vicens website, the house “heralds and displays the creative freedom that would become the hallmark of [Gaudí’s] entire future oeuvre.”
In 1899, Casa Vicens was purchased by the Herrero-Jover family, who enlarged it to make it a three-home residence. In 2014, it was sold to the private bank MoraBanc with the intention of opening the building to public visits.
Led by a trio of Spanish architects, restoration experts have been hard at work hand-painting ceramic tiles, reconstructing an artificial waterfall that once flowed in the garden, restoring a set of ornate lamps, and undertaking other tasks to rejuvenate the home. Once the project is completed in the fall, visitors will be able to bask in the glory of Gaudí’s singular vision.