Gaudi - Professional work - 02 Casa Vicens
Type of Spiritual Experience
Where Gaudi led - others followed
Can Corbella is one of Palma, Majorca's most original buildings, it is just down from Plaça Cort, on the corner of Carrer Santo Domingo. Its beauty is simply spellbinding. The late 19th century building was inspired by Gaudi even to the octagonal tower which extends over two storeys, reminiscent of Antoni Gaudí‘s earlier work.
It too was built in the Neo-Mudéjar or Neo-Moorish style. And the master builder’s name this time was Nicolau Lliteras. The building takes its name from a pharmacy, Droguería Corbella, which was installed in the building’s ground floor from 1895 until 1985. The building extends over five floors. A few years ago the building’s interior underwent a significant attempt at modernisation when, sadly, a large number of original features were destroyed. The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain.
The photo shows however that many young architects and builders were influenced positively by his lead.
A description of the experience
Gaudi’s first important commission was the Casa Vicens, through which he gained wider recognition and subsequently received more significant proposals.
Casa Vicens is a house in Barcelona, now a museum. It is located in the neighbourhood of Gràcia on Carrer de les Carolines, 20-26. Gaudí received the commission from Manuel Vicens i Montaner for the ‘completion of a summer residence’ in 1883 in what was then a country estate. The style of Casa Vicens borrows some elements of Neo-Mudéjar architecture, mixing iron, glass, ceramic tiles and concrete. It is perhaps a little more structured and less fluid and organic than his later works, but it is still flamboyant, colourful and innovative. Neo-Mudéjar architecture is considered Spain's special mixture of Muslim-Christian design. Some features of this ancient style such as horse-shoe arches, and abstract and vibrant facade ornamentation can be seen in Casa Vicens; the horse-shoe shaped staircase and the brick ornamentation on the front facade.
The plans for construction (site, main floor, facade and section) date back to January 15, 1883. Gaudí was granted a construction permit on March 8 of the same year. The house is constructed of undressed stone, rough red bricks, and colored ceramic tiles in both checkerboard and floral patterns. At the time of this construction, Gaudí was just beginning his career. He only graduated from the Provincial School of Architecture in Barcelona in 1878. It is an extraordinary achievement for one so young .
Casa Vicens was constructed between 1883 and 1888. It was constructed with facades on three sides and an extensive garden, including a monumental brick fountain. The house was surrounded by a wall with iron gates, decorated with palmetto leaves, work of Llorenç Matamala. The walls of the house are of stone alternated with lines of tile, which imitate yellow flowers typical of this area; the house is topped with chimneys and turrets. In the interior the polychrome wooden roof beams stand out, adorned with floral themes of papier maché; the walls are decorated with vegetable motifs, as well as paintings by Josep Torrescasana; finally, the floor consists of Roman-style mosaics of "opus tesselatum". The house is divided into four levels: a basement, two floors for living and a loft. The original building was small and measured only 12 x 16 meters with two individual bays. A brick waterfall fountain was built as well.
- The roof of Casa Vicens is sloped on two sides and has four gables. A small path was built around the edge of the roof that allows for easy and accessible maintenance. A characteristic seen throughout Gaudí's work is that the ventilation conduits and chimneys are intricately decorated in similar styles to the facade, ‘adding to and extending the artistic drama of the architecture’.
- On the ground floor, there is an extensive sitting-dining room, a small Turkish-style smoking room, and two additional rooms. Among the most original rooms is the smoking room, notable the ceiling, decorated with Moorish honeycomb-work, reminiscent of the Generalife in the Alhambra in Granada. The dining room is the most decorated room in the house and incorporated many figures from nature, such as birds and vines. Gaudí used pressed cardboard to create three dimensional model figures of ivy, fruit and flowers for the interior of the building. The dome painting in the sitting room gives one the impression of looking through a glass dome, to the sky. The interior ceiling ornamentation is decorated with colourful plants and flowers This floor was slightly elevated to allow for better ventilation and improved lighting of the basement.
- The basement, or bottom floor contained just enough space for a storage room, junk room and a kitchen. The basement received its light from a courtyard.
- The second floor was where the family's bedrooms were. A horseshoe-shaped stairway served as access to this floor.
- The third floor, or the attic, was where the servants lived. The horseshoe-shaped stairway also once continued up to this floor.
The first two levels of the house, as seen from the front facade facing Carrer de les Carolines, are lined with horizontal roles of ceramic tiles decorated with French marigolds that can also be seen on the floors in the interior of the house. These marigolds grew on the grounds of the estate, are an example of how Gaudí derived much of inspiration from his love of nature. The cast iron railings with their plant motifs and iron palm leaves that form the gates to the house are other ways that Gaudí incorporated nature into his work. Plants that had to be destroyed for the construction of the building, such as the marigolds or the palm trees, were incorporated into the details of the building.
From the second floor up, these tiles switch to vertical and the floral pattern on them is replaced with green and white tiles. Elegant cherub like figures sit on the edge of the small balcony that faces the street. Gaudi paid particular attention to each and every detail, such as creating ridged edges to the corners of the building to avoid the austere appearance of classical architecture.
Although significant portions of Casa Vicens remain as they were designed there have been alterations, thus this is not an entirely Gaudi designed house. In 1899, Casa Vicens was acquired by Dr. Antonio Jover, a surgeon from Havana, Cuba who was the grandfather of the owners of the building prior to its sale to MoraBanc in 2014. In 1924, Jover moved into the house. Before that, it had only been used as a holiday home. During the time of his ownership the house was a private building and was not open to the public.
In 1925, architect Juan Sierra de Martínez added on a new bay to the rear of the building, ‘following the same style as Gaudí’, and also significantly extended the size of the garden. He also modified the main floor entrances. After the renovations in 1925, the location of the stairway that gave access to the bedrooms was also changed.
With the widening of Carrer de las Carolinas, the access to the house had to be changed. The former entrance was converted into windows that open directly on to the street and can still be seen today. Although the description for Casa Vicens indicate that “These renovations were done with maximum respect for the original work”, one has to realise this is thus not the house Gaudi designed.
Martínez also built a cupola-topped chapel dedicated to Saint Rita at the angle furthest from the house. He continued this project until its completion date in 1926. A final restoration took place between the years 2001 and 2004. The aim of this restoration was to consolidate the facades and furnishings. This work was done under architect Ignacio Herrero Jover.
The source of the experienceGaudí, Antoni
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
SuppressionsBeauty, art and music
Being left handed
Believing in the spiritual world
Communing with nature