Inspired by the popular neo-Gothic and natural, organic styles, Antoni Gaudí designed some of the most iconic structures in Barcelona, becoming Catalunya’s most admired architect and an integral part of the Catalan Modernista movement.
While there are many reasons to visit Barcelona, Gaudí’s awe-inspiring structures still remain among the most captivating sites of the city. Considering the fact that he brought Catalan architecture worldwide fame, it is no wonder that a great number of his designs are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There is no doubt that the Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, and Park Güell are the best-recognized examples of Gaudí’s creativity, but there are also many other examples of his architectural genius throughout Barcelona and among them is the first house designed by the legendary architect, Casa Vicens.
This spectacular creation served as a private residence when it was finished back in 1889, but according to Hyperallergic, following a major restoration, it will soon be open to the public as a new museum.
Dubbed “the house where it all began,” this 130-year-old structure is regarded as a historical monument in Barcelona and is listed as a UNESCO World Human Heritage Site along with six other Gaudí creations.
Located in the neighborhood of Gràcia, Barcelona, the residence was built between 1883 and 1885 as a summer home. It was the 31-year-old Antoni Gaudi’s first major commission after he graduated from the Escola Provincial d’Arquitectura de Barcelona back in 1878.
The summer home Casa Vicens was commissioned by tile manufacturer Manuel Vicens i Montaner in 1883 and was acquired by a Cuban surgeon named Antonio Jover in 1889. It served as a private residence until 2014 when MoraBanc, a private family bank in Andorra, bought it from the Herrero-Jover family with the intention of turning it into a museum.
Over the years, the residence has been renovated multiple times, but according to the Casa Vicens website, its most significant changes took place in 1925 when the Jover family decided to enlarge the house. At the time, Gaudí was too busy building the Sagrada Família to take part in the project, so his friend Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez designed the project with Gaudí’s approval.
Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez turned the single-family home into a three-family residence, removing Gaudí’s original staircase to construct a new staircase that would reach all three floors of the residence. Martínez also increased the size of the gardens.
The Jover family put Casa Vicens up for sale in 2007, but it took seven years before the house was finally acquired by MoraBanc. The extensive restoration and renovation project started about a year later and it took them two years before the project was completed.
Spanish architects José Antonio Martínez Lapeña, Elías Torres, of Martínez Lapeña-Torres Arquitectes, and David García of Daw Office led the project of transforming the four-story building into a museum.
The original details of the house designed by Gaudí remained intact, but the spaces constructed by Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez in 1925 were modified so they could better accommodate the visitors of the new museum and for the planned permanent and temporary exhibitions of the museum. Casa Vicens is finally set to open to the public in October this year.
Gaudí’s architectural masterpiece is situated on Carrer de les Carolines, 24, in the western part of the neighborhood of Gràcia, Barcelona. Since 1993, the former residence has been designated an Asset of National Cultural Interest and is regarded as a historical monument in Barcelona.
The ambitious plans for the museum include a lot of interactive displays and educational activities, as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions. MoraBanc’s goal is to transform the site into a museum unlike any other in Barcelona.