Sunday, May 23, 2010

Casa Batlló, Barcelona, Spain

Casa Batlló, originally uploaded by NatashaP.

Between 1898 and 1906 three adjacent houses in one block on the fashionable boulevard 'Passeig de Gracia' were built by some of the most important modernist architects: Casa Amatller (designed by Puig i Cadafalch), Casa Lléo Morera (designed by Domènech i Montaner) and Gaudí's Casa Batlló.
All three houses were designed in a different interpretation of the modernist style in what seems like a competition between the architects. This lead to the local term 'Mançana de la Discordia', which means apple of discord, referring to Greek mythology where an apple, given by the goddess Eris 'to the fairest' lead to a dispute between three goddesses, eventually leading to the Trojan War. Conveniently the word mançana also means 'block', so the expression 'Mançana de la Discordia' can also be translated as 'Block of Discord'.
Of the three houses, Wooden door, Gaudi style Casa Batlló is the most expressive. The house was originally built between 1875 and 1877. In 1900 it was bought by the rich industrialist Josep Battló i Casanovas who commissioned Gaudí to tear down the old house and reconstruct a new one. Gaudí however convinced Battló to remodel the existing building. Between 1904 and 1906 Gaudí redesigned the facade and roof, added an extra floor and completely remodeled the interior.
The façade of the Casa Batlló is quite whimsical. It is made of sandstone covered with colorful trencadis (a Catalan type of mosaic). Typical of Gaudí, straight lines are avoided whenever possible. The first floor features irregularly sculpted oval Detail of the roofwindows. Balconies at the lower floors have bone-like pillars, those on the upper floors look like pieces of skulls. These features gave the house the nickname 'House of Bones'. The enlarged windows on the first floor gave it another nickname, 'House of Yawns'.
The colorful scaled roof recalls a reptile skin. According to some authorities on Gaudí architecture, the roof represents a dragon; the small turret with a cross would symbolize the sword of St. George stuck into the dragon. The bones and skulls on the facade represent all the dragon's victims.

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler

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