About Casa de les Punxes

Modernist architecture

Be amazed by its history

Declared a historical monument of national interest in 1976, Casa de les Punxes is one of the most emblematic buildings in Barcelona. Built by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch for the Terradas family, it is located right in the heart of the modernist area of Barcelona.

The Casa de les Punxes is one of the most iconic monuments in the city and the product of an era characterised by the economic progress of the bourgeoisie, strong traditional customs and extensive industrialisation.

The current project offers a journey through the history of the house and the family responsible for its construction (the Terradas), with a focus placed on the 20th Century bourgeoisie. The 20th Century Catalan families of the bourgeoisie form a sociohistorical network that is closely related to the artistic language developed by modernism.

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Casa de les Punxes, also known as Casa Terradas, was built in 1905 and designed by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. It was commissioned by Àngela Brutau, widow of Bartolomeu Terradas i Mont –a well-known textile and farming businessman– and intended for his three daughters, Àngela, Rosa and Josefa. Josep Puig i Cadafalch took on the commission to design a house for each of the sisters. The architect created an interesting project with a medieval feel, seamlessly blending the three buildings to look like a single house, a single building. The buildings were to be built on a triangular site, which meant the architect could not follow Cerdàs’ design. The new design was inspired by the Wagner-inspired fashion in northern Europe, a block with 6 corners, coinciding with the intersection of the three surrounding streets.

The main facade was placed in the corner of Avinguda Diagonal and to emphasize its importance, the architect used two circular towers of different shapes and size and larger than those in the rest of vertices. In the neo-Gothic style and forming a viewing area, it breaks up the symmetry of the building. The three properties were divided into a ground floor used for commercial purposes; a main floor, for each of the owners; four floors for rent and a large terrace where the servants’ rooms were located. The ground floor was built of stone with arches and columns decorated with floral and abstract motifs, while on the upper floors red brick is used combined with areas of stone like the bleachers or balconies.

The modernist movement proposed the synthesis of all the arts and their integration into everyday life; it was about finding a modern and useful style which expanded the field of art, elevating applied arts to the category of fine art. If we study the decorative details of Casa de les Punxes, we can see the greatness of this work. Puig i Cadafalch always collaborated with outstanding craftsmen, who worked with elements such as iron and glass and put into practice the new techniques and materials that the new advances made available for them.

The façade makes use of a wide range of decorative techniques: sculpture, ironwork, glass and ceramics, in which we can find a symbolic reading –religious or mythological–, such as the ceramic panel of the figure of sant Jordi, which crowns the façade on carrer Rosselló with the inscription “Sant patró de Catalunya torneu-nos la llibertat” (Patron Saint of Catalonia give us back our freedom). Strategically located on the same panel, we can also find a portrait of the architect. There are floral motifs, male figures, some with horns or more particular physiognomy, also sea and plant elements as the flying fish- the symbol of power-, the pomegranate –symbol of royalty and Christianity– or the dragon, part of the medieval artistic iconography and the symbol of heroes fighting against evil. Decorative elements also make reference to the ownership of the houses; in the upper part of the façade, each of the blocks have a ceramic panel with images that refer to the Terradas sisters: in the Àngela Terradas panel there is a representation of an angel with the initials ATB and the following inscription: “Aquesta obra fou acabada l’any MCMV” (This work was finished in MCMV). In the central house panel, for Josefa Terradas, there is a sundial with the inscription Numquam te crastina fallet hora (You will never be failed by the uncertain time of tomorrow) with graphic allusions to Saint Joseph. Finally, at Rosa Terradas house, there are three panels, one is a woman wrapped in roses and the other two vases of roses with the initials RTB.

In various areas of the house we can still find two of the most recurring elements in modernist architecture: ceramic tiles and hydraulic flooring, both with a great artistic and functional value.

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