The first house Gaudi designed opens to tourists in Barcelona
The first house designed by the iconic architect Antoni Gaudi – opens to the public for the first time on Nov. 16, with advance tickets already on sale. After years of repairs, Casa Vicens, could finally be added to the list of creations of the celebrated architect of Sagrada Familia
The house in Barcelona’s Gràcia district was commissioned by and named after Barcelona-based industrialist Manel Vicens I Montaner, owner of a brick factory. He asked Gaudi, who was then one of the city's rising, but still almost unknown architectural stars, to design him the home of his dreams which would reflect his status and wealth. Vicens famously said upon Gaudí’s graduation: “We have given this degree to either a fool or a genius. Time will tell.”
Located at Carrer de las Carolines 24, the property is, even at first glance, visibly a Gaudi masterpiece – a mix of red wood and blue-and-white tiling which uses iron, glass and concrete to make its point. The masterpiece awarded Unesco status in 2005 is considered to be an early case of Art Nouveau.
Over the years, different owners succeeded each other. After decades of being in the hands of the same family since 1899, in 2014 Casa Vicens was sold to MoraBanc,, Andorran financial institution, who finally decided to restore the building and transform it into a museum complex spending millions of euros.
The restoration work on Casa Vicens that began in March 2017 uncovered original polychrome elements hidden under various layers added over the years. The guidelines for the restoration have been to return the building to its original state with the utmost respect for the home. A multidisciplinary team, made up of architects, artisans, historians, experts on the works of Gaudí, chemists and photographers, among others, helped ratify the preliminary hypotheses.
Several spaces for exhibitions and activities, both temporary and permanent, round out the visit to Casa Vicens. They explain and expand on the contents covering the history of the house and Gaudí’s work, as well as the architectural, artistic, social and cultural context of the era, what was going on in Barcelona and the world.
The basement will shelter a gift shop, while the top floor will present an exhibition of the house’s history and influences, complete with Gaudí’s original plans.
Manager Mercedes Mora says the time is right for Casa Vicens to open to the public. “Culture moves emotions,” she says. “This could be a moment of peace.” The building is, she notes, a dialogue between contrasting elements, and even between nature and architecture. “This is the essence of Gaudí’s universe – the garden of Catalan modernisme. We can see the seeds of styles and techniques that he nurtured throughout his career, and of others he used only here,” she says. “It represents a new way of thinking.”
The museum will be open from 10 am to 8 pm with tickets starting from €14 and free for children under 7.