A couple of weeks ago I surprised my boyfriend with a trip to Barcelona for his birthday. He knew we were going somewhere (he had to take time off work after all) but didn’t know where until the day of. He’d only been to Barcelona as a tot, and whilst I’d been years ago and loved the city, my experience then wasn’t great, I wanted to go again with the best possible company.
On our first full day, I took him to Casa Batllo. One of Gaudi’s amazing creations, this former residence is full of mosaic tiles, stained glass, wavy lines (there are no straight lines in the building!) and light.
One of my favourite buildings in Barcelona, the Noble room is my dream room. The whole building has a very visceral feel to it – this means it just “feels” right (literally its the gut feeling when something is good). Huge wavy windows let in light, stained glass balanced the light, and phenomenal chandeliers add shadows and texture.
The ceilings are equally beautiful…
I particularly loved photographing the lights from various angles – first how we’d normally view them, and then later from directly underneath, to see the shapes and patterns both of the fixtures and fittings but also the shadows they cast on the ceiling itself.
I think my favourite is this next one – the directly-underneath-view was breathtaking, as the ceiling spirals beyond the light.
Thankfully the owners of the house, Josep Batllo and his wife, who commissioned Gaudi to redesign it in 1904, were very open minded. They let him run free, and one of his most notable design features (and demonstration of how well he understood light and the need for different amounts of light at different levels) was the central atrium/elevator shaft that runs from top to bottom of the house.
Gaudi understood that at lower levels, more light was needed. He had the entire central well tiled in shades of blue. As you start at the bottom, the tiles are the lightest, palest blue – this would make the space brighter and reflect what little light reaches them. As you go further up, the tiles get darker, to signify more light reaching them, and less need for them to brighten the space.
The rooftop and overall feel is somewhat skeletal – the roof is arched and curved and is thought to be the scaly back of a dragon (or dinosaur!), covered in more mosaic tiles to give texture and depth. It’s said that the rooftop spine, turrets and cross represent St George slaying the dragon – and I discovered that St George is not only the patron saint of England but also Catalonia, where Gaudi himself was from.
Throughout the whole building, I got a sense of space and light – but not in a traditional way. Every element has been thought of differently, to be just right – not just typical big windows, but how the light fits the space.
There’s also a little sun-trap terrace – it’s a little difficult to imagine what it would have been like 100 years ago because the sound of traffic and the neighbouring more-modern buildings change the vibe somewhat, but when it goes quiet, it’s a continuation of the truly beautiful building.
^ Even outside on the terrace, the shapes are wavy and the mosaic tiles are plentiful.
Located on Passeig de Gracia, close to metro stations Diagonal and Passeig de Gracia, it costs around 25euro (that price includes an audioguide), and is absolutely worth visiting.
P.S. Should you wish, you can click through the photos and see them in an extra-giant scale. All dem megapixels at work…