Casa Vicens, the first house designed by Antoni Gaudí, can be visited for the first time after remaining a private residence for more than 130 years. It is the last World Heritage Site building to open to the public in the city of Barcelona, and it will officially open in the autumn of 2017.
Casa Vicens will thus complete the list of eight buildings in Barcelona that UNESCO has declared to be of cultural interest for the entire international community, along with the Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, Park Güell, Palau Güell, the Palau de la Música and Hospital Sant Pau.
Casa Vicens was built as a summer home between 1883 and 1885 i; it was designed by the 31-year-old Gaudí for Manel Vicens i Montaner (1836-1895), a broker-dealer.
In addition to being one of the starting points of Gaudí’s career, the architect created an innovative, original work in Casa Vicens which is different to anything that had been built in Catalonia before it. Casa Vicens thus became one of the first examples of the aesthetic renewal of art and architecture which was taking place all around Europe in the late 19th century.
Over its 130 years of history, Casa Vicens has solely been used as a residence, originally as a summer home and later as a first residence. Antoni Gaudí designed a summer house divided into four levels: the basement for storage; the ground floor to house the living room, dining room and kitchen; the first floor, which was meant for the bedrooms; and the top floor for the servants.
At first the house only had three façades since it was attached to the neighbouring construction on the northeast side; the southwest served as the main façade open to the extensive gardens surrounding the house. This orientation guaranteed sunlight and favourable climatic conditions during the different seasons of the year.
With Casa Vicens, Antoni Gaudí created an innovative, original work. Beyond its Orientalist features, it marks a stylistic rupture with everything built in Catalonia until then, which is why Casa Vicens is regarded as one of the early masterpieces of Art Nouveau (Modernisme).
In Casa Vicens, Gaudí recreated the figurative worlds that were fashionable at the time, but in a highly personal way. The house is built following Catalan construction traditions, which the architect interpreted in unexpected ways, while he also incorporated decorative and symbolic elements, also in his highly personal way. As a whole, it heralds and displays the creative freedom that would become the hallmark of his entire future oeuvre.