Today I´ve my favourite building in Barcelona for you, ladies and gentlemen meet her majesty La Casa Amatller!
Catalan chocolatier Antoni Amatller Costa came in to the family business from his father. The young entrepreneur modernised and improved production chain, introduced new products and ended as one of the most successful businessman of that times, now days we still enjoy his chocolate, but his baby isn´t Amatller Chocolate but the Amatller House.
On March 1898 Antoni Amatller bought a property, built in 1875, at Paseig de Gràcia in Barcelona, in order to turn it into his place of residence. He put Josep Puig i Cadafalch in charge to remodel the building. Josep Puig i Cadafalch was a Catalan modernist architect, who designed many significant buildings in Barcelona, as la Casa Martí (known as “Els Quatre Gats”) among them, a place of ideas and social gatherings frequented by Santiago Rusiñol and Ramon Casas. Puig’s style separated him significantly from his contemporary Antoni Gaudí, they were not best friends but they collaborated in construction of Café Torino. Puig created more modern style architecture, using traditional arts as a base adapting them to new materials. An essential factor was the collaboration of craftsmen who, revived and fortified by the historical and literary renaissance.
The project ended in a radical transformation of the building, including the demolition and subsequent rebuilding of the façade, for me the most impressive part of the building. For the new façade, with connotations from the Romanesque to the Baroque, the architect shied away from the vertical alignment of the components, distributing an uneven number of openings on each floor, and even looking to create an effect of balanced asymmetry and a fictitious irregularity, seeing as all horizontal. The singular stair-like top that crowns the building serves to integrate the new photographic studio built on the roof (by law it had to be separated by some metres from the neighbouring buildings) with the rest of the building. It was a solution that the architect adopted, in order to resolve the apparent problem of terraced houses with gabled roofs.
La Casa Amatller shares a wall with Gaudi´s so famous Casa Batllo, the most beautiful fairy tale house I´ve ever seen. The fact that Gaudi is far more famous and the two buildings are together makes that La Casa Amatller isn´t appreciated properly, which is a pity, as for me it´s a real treasure of architecture, maybe far more interesting then Gaudi´s Casa Batllo o La Pedrera.