A tour de force of Catalan Modernism, Josep Puig i Cadafalch’s privately owned masterpiece has undergone a lengthy and lovingly executed restoration, summer 2016 sees it open to the public for the first time in 100 years.
It may well appear to the on looker as a fairytale medieval castle and the sheer scale of it’s presence here in the Eixample district, downtown Barcelona is conspicuous. It’s six monumental conical towers which are tiled and decorated lavishly make Casa Terradas one of the most recognisable landmarks on the city’s skyline and earnt it it’s nickname ‘The House of Spikes’.
The only freestanding structure in the entire neighbourhood - Àngela Brutau, widow of Bartolomeu Terradas i Mont (a successful textile entrepreneur), commissioned leading contemporary architect, politician and historian Josep Puig i Cadafalch to renovate the existing properties of their three unmarried daughters. The project was completed in 1905, whilst appearing externally to be one vast home, it in fact incorporated three separate apartments for the sisters, Àngela, Rosa and Josefa on the first floor as well as spaces for commercial use and offices. Subtle stylistic and decorative details on the building’s façade differentiate each home. Many quirky examples can be discovered in the neo-Classical sculptural reliefs by Alfons Juyol and in the extensive creative input of Enric Monserdà who set up an on-site workshop from which he designed many of the buildings stylistic features including the houses’ neo-Gothic chapel with it’s impressive altarpiece.
It’s the late nineteenth century and the industrial revolution forces the city into a period of expansion, much of this was overseen by revolutionary architect and town planner Idelfons Cerdá. This is the era of the Bourgeoisie. Families such as the Terrades’ became avid patrons of the arts, asserting their cultural, economic and social power with landmark buildings in up and coming neighbourhoods. It was through the investment of this new social class that Catalan Modernism could flourish with Casa Terrades being a prime example. It’s strategically positioned main entrance on the corner of Avinguda Diagonal emphasise the building’s self importance. But who could argue it doesn’t deserve a level of arrogance and to be rightfully celebrated for it’s elegance in design and fastidiousness in craftsmanship.
From the ground level arches and columns rise up, decoratively topped with flowers, these make way for ceramic panels rich with patriotic symbolism. The Legend of Saint George comes alive at Casa de les Punxes. ‘Sant Jordi’ is the patron saint of Catalonia and his saint day (April 23rd) is one of the city’s most popular and romantic festivals - where lovers traditionally exchange books and roses. The story of his heroic triumph over the Dragon is much enhanced for the visitor by the recent program of investment and will captivate any visitor. The façade showcases stylistic features typical of Art Nouveau/Catalan Modernism including wrought iron balconies and decorative leadwork by Manuel Ballerin and stained glass windows by Eduard Amigó. The interior spaces, some of which are open to the public, demonstrate a feeling of light airiness, this is achieved by Puig i Cadafalch’s innovative use of steel structures, eliminating the presence of load-bearing walls. Perhaps most impressive is the roofspace, fully accessible to the public, you can marvel up close at the skill of design, manufacture and careful execution of the six pointed tiled towers that crown the building - not to mention the far-reaching views of the city that unfold beneath.
Casa Terrades also now hosts Matalaranya, an elegant, atmospheric bar/café with an airy modern feel, it offers a wide selection of vermouth and tapas within this spectacular setting.
Casa de les Punxes
Av. Diagonal, 420, 08037 Barcelona