Casa Josep Batlló

Antoni Gaudí
Passeig de Gràcia 43; L'Eixample District

This is one of three houses in this fashionable block designed by a prominent Modernista architect, the other two being Casa Morera by Domènech i Montaner and Casa Amatller by Puig i Cadafalch. But each of the houses is in a very different style, giving rise to the punning term Mançana de la Discòrdia, meaning "apple of discord" (mançana is the Catalan word for both "apple" and "block"). These three houses were all essentially remodelling jobs with alterations to existing buildings. Here Gaudí designed a new facade, added a fifth floor, and altered the interior of this apartment building and residence for the textile industrialist Josep Batlló i Casanovas. The facade is unique in that it eliminates the corner and the edge, with curvilinear undulations dominating the design. Even balcony railings seem twisted.

Left: distant view with Casa Amatller on the left; center and right: views of the facade with the thick elephantine columns at the base (which intrude into the pedestrian's right of way)

Almost as soon as the facade was complete the house was dubbed "La Casa dels Ossos," the House of Bones, because of the curvilinear stone columns resembling bones. Even the wrought iron balcony railings are painted cream color. The little balconies have been compared to masks, with various kinds of symbolism attributed to the overall design. The facade of the structure is covered with "tachiste abstraction" in glittering colors.


The windows with stained glass panels

The roof has been compared to a reptilian creature, the backbone of a gigantic dinosaur, the dragon killed by St. George (Sant Jordi being the patron saint of Catalan).
The roof is covered with bluish-pink tiles on the street side. The small tower, topped with a cross, has gilded initials on it: JHS (Jesus), JHP (Joseph) and M (Mary).

(I'm sorry that the trees bock so many of the views. I plan to return to Spain this winter and retake photographs with barren trees!)

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© 2001 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

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