House of Bones
Casa Batlló was commissioned by Josep Batlló i Casanovas, a wealthy textile industrialist who greatly admired Gaudí’s vision in Park Güell. Unlike Casa Milà, it is a redesign of a preexisting building rather than an original construction; but like all of Gaudí’s work, Casa Batlló is stunningly innovative in its design and displays the dreamlike quality that makes him stand out as the foremost artist of Catalan Modernism.
Never happy to settle for a conventional look, Gaudí had the building’s original external walls reworked to give an undulating façade. This frontage was then decorated with sparkling polychrome glass, as well as Gaudí’s trademark Catalan ceramic mosaic tiles. The magic reaches right up to the iridescent roof, which resembles the scaled back of a dragon and changes hue in the light depending on the angle it is viewed from. Even the cast-iron balcony railings are fantastical, resembling a gallery of dramatic masks. The vivid design and play of light and colour combine to give the building an overall impression of brightness and joy - although the local name for the building is Casa dels Ossos (House of Bones), in reference to its skeletal, organic qualities.
The building’s interior has something of a submarine feel, and is a stunning display of Gaudí’s mastery of natural light. The house contains an incredible variety of stained glass throughout, modulating the building’s colours according to the viewer’s position. A huge skylight sits atop a central well; the well is decorated in Byzantine cut tiles that are darker blue towards the top and lighter towards the bottom, creating the illusion of even distribution of light, and its windows also progressively shrink as you climb higher.
In 2002, as part of the celebration of the International Year of Gaudí, the newly renovated house was opened to the public. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage site soon after in 2005. Visitors to Casa Batlló today can still admire its gorgeous and surprisingly ergonomic design, with new details to discover in almost every room. It is a marvel of form and function, and another jewel in the crown of the Catalan capital.