Casa Batlló built between 1904 and 1906 in Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia is the most emblematic work of the brilliant Catalan architect.
Gaudí gave Casa Batlló a facade that is original, fantastical and full of imagination. He replaced the original facade with a new composition of stone and glass. He ordered the external walls to be redesigned to give them a wavy shape, which was then plastered with lime mortar and covered with a mosaic of fragments of colored glass and ceramic discs.
At the top of the facade, the roof is in the shape of an animal’s back with large iridescent scales. The spine which forms the ornamental top is composed of huge spherical pieces of masonry in colors which change as you move along the roof-tree from one end to the other.
On the level of the ground floor, the Noble Floor and the first floor, the facade includes slender pillars of Montjuic stone which form bone-like shapes and are decorated with typically modernist floral designs.
The balcony railings in the shape of masks are made of wrought iron cast in a single piece and are secured by two anchor points in such a way that the balconies partly project outwards.
As a whole, the facade is a joyful and allegorical representation, full of organic elements and colors and charged with symbolism, a wonderful spectacle in the city which inspires the most sublime sentiments in all those who gaze upon it. The house is a dialogue between light and color.
On the Noble Floor, which was the residence of the Batlló family, Gaudí created a new layout with undulating internal walls, and he decorated the various rooms.
From the entrance hall on the ground floor, a sturdy iron railing separates the private access to the Batlló family residence. A grand wooden staircase leads up from a hall with vaulted ceilings and skylights shaped like tortoises’ shells. The spine of some huge animal carved from fine hardwood rises up as a banister through impossible spaces, giving the whole space an underwater atmosphere, transporting visitors to the fantasy world of Jules Verne. Here, the idea of the depths of the sea is very believable, with colours and shades of the surface of the sea and sand, and other marine allusions.
The building well is an extremely important part of the refurbishment. Gaudí enlarged the light well and covered the walls entirely in relief glazed tiles in varying shades of blue, which are darker in color at the top and lighter towards the bottom, thus achieving an even distribution of the light. The windows are smaller higher up where more natural light can enter, whereas they get larger as you move further down. Below the windows there are wooden slits which can be opened and closed to ensure good ventilation. In the middle of the light well he installed the lift, with its fine original wooden cabin which still functions today.
The vast central skylight is composed of huge pieces of iron and glass panes, and it spans the large building well which was widened by Gaudí. It is this huge skylight that allows a cascade of light to enter and illuminate the whole building well.
The work as a whole is a marvel of ornamental design thanks to its use of emerging trades. Gaudí worked with the most highly skilled craftsmen in every profession. The transformation of wrought iron, in which curves are not only for rhetorical and aesthetic purposes, but also provide structural support; undulating works in wood such as three-dimensional doors with surprising embossed patterns; colorful stained-glass windows which filter the natural light; raised ceramic tiles; decorative pieces of masonry made from Montjuic sandstone: all of these elements are testament to the skill of the craftsmen of the period.
From Casa Batlló