What Matters

March 2023 Issue

On Location In Barcelona

Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is home to famous architecture of the Catalan Modernisme movement. The movement began at the end of the 19th Century during the industrial revolution when people were moving back to the city from the countryside in search of employment. To make the city more attractive and to accommodate for the population increase, urban planners developed an extension to the city known as Eixample (extension in Catalan). It is a grid with angled corners at every intersection to allow more light into the grid. Famous architects of this period like Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, and Josep Puig i Cadafalch began to experiment with architecture in Eixample that referenced the European Art Nouveau period which promoted nature and organic shapes. Let’s take a closer look.

True Colors

Antoni Gaudí is the king of Barcelona Modernisme. There is no greater example of his work than Sagrada Familia on which we reported back in the December 2019 issue of What Matters. We have an update. In the last three years, two of the five central towers have been completed. Those of Luke and Mark were capped off with an ox and lion respectively and lighted on Dec 16, 2022. The towers dedicated to John and Matthew are expected to be completed in 2023. The largest, central tower dedicated to Jesus Christ is expected to be completed in 2026 commemorating the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death. The tower dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the second tallest, stands 453 feet above the ground, and the one dedicated to Jesus, the summit of the Basilica, will soar to 566 feet. The maximum height of the Sagrada Familia will be slightly lower than the peak of the mountain of Montjuic. As Gaudi always said, the work of man should not surpass the work of God. A What Matters recommendation is to buy advanced, timed tickets and plan to go later in the day. As the sun sets, the light streams through the stained glass playing with shape and color throughout the entire building.

New Kids on the Block

Architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch was commissioned by an important chocolate industrialist to build Casa Amatller. Puig i Cadafalch used elements from Romanesque and Catalan Gothic and reinterpreted them for a façade that is full of symbolism and decorative elements. The combination of colors and materials makes this building stand out on the Manzana de la Discordia (Block of Discord). This single block includes four of the most important Modernist buildings in Barcelona, all by four different architects, and all with completely different styles. All of them clash and compete for the most impressive architecture of the time.

You Skylight Up My Life

The Palau de la Música Catalana is a concert hall designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and built between 1905 and 1908. Following the typical Catalan Modernisme style, dynamic shapes are more predominant than static forms and curves are preferred to straight lines. It was the wealthy citizens of Barcelona who helped finance this highly decorated building and who requested characteristics that symbolize the Catalan character. The concert hall is still in use today and seats approximately 2,200 people. It is the only auditorium in Europe that is illuminated during daylight hours entirely by natural light. The enormous stained-glass skylight is a masterpiece and truly spectacular.

Modern Love

The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, also known as Sant Pau Recinto Modernista, is the largest Modernist complex in the world. It was a working hospital until 2009, at which time the medical facilities were relocated. The complex was restored and rehabilitated, and it reopened in 2014 as a UNESCO world heritage site. Designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the complex merged six separate hospitals. It has a palace and 12 pavilions with intricately decorated façades and an impressive main building. Patterned tiles, bold mosaics and colorful stained-glass windows are design elements throughout the whole complex.

Industry Spotlight

We’re excited to share the below recent shoutouts we received from both 1stDibs and Houzz featuring different photos from the same recent #IMASearsKitHome project with their followers. It’s an honor to receive recognition by these industry trendsetters.