“Colour in certain places has the great value of making the outlines and structural planes seem more energetic.” Antonio Gaudi
After my visit to Casa Batllo in the moring, I couldn’t wait to see more of Gaudi’s work. I can honestly say that is architecture is some of the most beautiful pieces of art that I have ever seen and I wanted to see more. I found a little cafe to stop and have coffee, also can we talk about the weird obsession there seems to be in Spain with putting cinnamon in coffee, it’s not right and is a very unpleasant surprise! So back to my unpleasant coffee I decided to have a quick browse on google and discover more of Gaudi’s work to visit. It seems you don’t have to look too far before finding more of his beautiful buildings. And so I jumped on the metro and headed over to Casa Vicens…..
Casa Vicens is the first important commission Antoni Gaudí received and sowed the seeds of all his architectural work. In 1883, Manel Vicens I Montaner, a stock and currency broker, entrusted the young architect with designing his summer garden home in the former village of Gràcia. It is his first masterpiece and one of the first buildings to kick off the Modernisme movement in Catalonia and Europe.
From the second you arrive at the top of the street you can’t miss this beautiful home, the house looks like it would be better suited to being sat in a middle eastern street rather then a small sleepy side street in Barcelona. The curves and lines around the windows would be more suited to an Indian Palace than a house on a quiet Spanish street. While the wooden window shutters would look perfect wrapped around a Japanese house.
The most shocking part was I was the only person visiting, the queue for Casa Batllo was literally down the road and around the corner, yet this equally ironic piece of work seemed to be forgotten. Not that I am complaining I walked around in utter peace and quiet with only the voices of the staff to interrupt my thoughts. In a world where building square boxes and calling them home is the norm its hard to imagine anyone building something so beautiful now.
It feels like Gaudi used every kind of building material in the creation of this family home from ceramic tiles which would follow Gaudi throughout his career to the iron gates and even the use of paper mache in its interiors and for every material used, there seemed to be a different country for inspiration. From India, Japan with even what looks like Turkish inspiration. This house is a stunning tribute to nature and travel.
Casa Vicens has three inscriptions written in Catalan: “Sun, little sun, come and see me”, “From the hearth, the fire of love lives” and “Oh! The shadow of summer”. These phrases preside over the façade, clearly referencing each of the directions the house faces.
When it came to the porch Gaudí decided to play with the meanings. In this area, you find a small fountain with metal that looks like a spider’s web. Its function is purely aesthetic: when the rain falls on the metallic web, the drops became entangled. Later, a rainbow appeared with the sun, where the Vicens family ate in the summer. Giving a small oasis in a big busy city.
At Casa Vicens, Gaudí created his first accessible rooftop, a true vantage point and place to get away from it all and contemplate life. It features a walkway around all four sides of the pitched roof, with curved terracotta roof tiles to collect the water. On this rooftop, a small cupola crowns the tower on the western corner of the façade and three identical brick structures act as caps to the home’s chimneys. These structures, like the façade, are clad in green and white ceramic tiles and show how Gaudí was influenced by Islamic and Asian architecture.
This ceiling is utterly stunning, the dome painting was meant to represent a dome light and act as if it was a window looking out into the world. A world that was always bright and beautiful. Gaudi’s work was heavily influenced by nature and this is another example of how he used the natural world in the interiors.
The smoking room was inspired by orientalism, this special smoking room features palm trees adorned with clustered of dates made from plaster, and papier-mache tiles in green, blue and gold – the room gives the effect of being in an oasis, an alternate reality where one can relax to the fullest.
My first day in Barcelona was a mixed bag of emotions, I started the day pretty sure I was going to hate the city, the sky was grey the people were greyer and I was exhausted. By the end of the day, I was feeling much more inspired and happy to be exploring a new city and discovering new artists, foods and culture. One of the best aspects of travelling alone is being able to do whatever the hell you want. So by 7pm I was exhausted I had been awake since 2am, my feet were hurting and I had eaten a little too much. So I headed back to my hotel for a bath and some TV time, which might seem like a waste. However, in my normal life, my house only has showers and I don’t have a TV so in fact, this felt like a luxury, one I wasn’t going to pass up because a holiday is about relaxing and doing things out of the norm!