Joan Rubió, the forgotten Art Nouveau artist

Joan Rubió i Bellver is a Catalan Art Nouveau architect, his figure is mostly unknown, although he had a close relationship with great figures such as Gaudí. His work, however, speaks of him in many of the streets of Barcelona. Who would not recognize the beauty of Casa Golferichs or Casa Pomar?

Joan Rubió was a contemporary architect of great Art Nouveau artists. Rubió was taught by Domènech i Montaner together with Puig i Cadafalch at the School of Architecture and was later a disciple of Gaudí. He worked with him on some of his best-known projects, for example: the Sagrada Familia, the Casa Batlló, the Parc Güell or the restoration of the Colònia Güell together with Francesc Berenguer, another great collaborator of Gaudí.

At the end of the 19th century, when he left the School of Architecture, he began collaborating with Gaudí, who was already known as an architect at a national level. A few years passed before Rubió began to have his own projects. Casa Canals (1899-1900) is the first known building built by Rubió, followed by the well-known Casa Golferichs (1900-1901). These first two projects are followed by many Art Nouveau constructions scattered throughout Barcelona and other national territories. Some of them have become photogenic settings for those interested in Barcelona’s culture, such as the neo-Gothic bridge at Carrer del Bisbe or Casa Pomar.

 

Joan Rubió was, in addition to an architect, a figure involved in the politics of his time. He was elected alderman by the Lliga Regionalista in November 1905. Puig i Cadafalch was also involved in this formation during similar years, also having an active political life.

Rubió not only took part in politics, but he also took part in various religious associations such as the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc or the Associació Espiritual de la Mare de Déu de Montserrat, which brought together different intellectuals of the time with similar ideas. These associations were related to the most important cleric of the time: Josep Torras i Bages, a friend of both Rubió and Gaudí, and were of great importance in defining the conservative Catalanism that characterised the Regionalist League at that time.

Joan Rubió, in short, was a very active figure of his time who wanted to leave his mark, collaborating with great artists and intellectuals of his time in both politics and architecture.

Did you know him?

Source: Solà-Morales Rubió, Ignasi. Joan Rubió i Bellver y la fortuna del gaudinismo. Barcelona: La Gaya Ciencia, 1975. Printed


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Eixample of Barcelona, history and curiosities of the district

Do you know when the construction of the Eixample began? Who designed it? In this post you will find the answer to these questions and some curiosities about this well-known district of Barcelona.

The Eixample has always been known for its square and modern design by Ildefons Cerdà. This urban planner managed to turn an open field into the popular urban grid we know today as Eixample. Cerdà’s uniform design sought to eliminate the differences between the areas inhabited by the wealthiest and the most disadvantaged. He could not achieve this, as the real estate market is governed by its own laws.

We can consider that the Eixample of Barcelona began to be built in 1854, with the governmental authorization of the demolition of the walls of the city. These walls, which had surrounded Barcelona for many years, extended along the Avinguda del Paral·lel, the Passeig de Lluís Companys and along the Ronda de Sant Pau, de Sant Antoni, Universitat and San Pere. Its demolition was neither simple nor immediate, although there was a great deal of citizen collaboration.  The citizens of Barcelona had to wait almost ten years to see the walls demolished, although four years after the process had begun, the Eixample began to be developed.

Granvia de les Corts Catalanes, 1928.

Many of Cerdà’s forecasts were modified as the construction of the Eixample progressed, especially from 1880, when the modernist architects came into play and built the iconic and distinctive modernist houses. Great architects soon erected their buildings in the new and promising district. Casa Batlló, La Pedrera and Casa de les Punxes are just some of those that can be visited today. The best known are those belonging to the illustrious architect of the Sagrada Familia: Antoni Gaudí. Even so, there are great jewels by other architects such as Lluís i Domènech or Puig i Cadafalch in the Eixample such as Casa Amatller Casa Lleó i Morera or Casa de les Punxes. The latter, the work of Puig i Cadafalch, stands monumental and majestically in the middle of Avinguda Diagonal, although most of these buildings are concentrated in Passeig de Gràcia, one of the main streets of the Eixample and the main residential centre of the high bourgeoisie at the end of the 19th century.

Source: Paris, Jordi (Cord.) Ruta del Modernisme de Barcelona. Barcelona: IMPUiQV, 2005. Printed.

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Art Nouveau family visit, another way to discover Barcelona

There are several modernist buildings in the center of Barcelona that have activities or visits specially designed for families or children. If you are looking for family plans linked to the Catalan culture, pick up paper and pencil!

Casa Vicens, Antoni Gaudí‘s first building, is one of the modernist buildings offering regular family activities in Barcelona.  Thanks to these, the little ones can enjoy the building in their own way. They are sure to have a great time taking out their interior painter or architect!


Another modernist building that doesn’t forget to think of small artists is Casa de les Punxes. This iconic building by Puig i Cadafalch has occasional family workshops such as the one to be held on 10 November or those held at the end of the month at the Saló de Famílies Nombroses de Catalunya. The real strength of Casa de les Punxes lies in the free complement it offers children during family visits, the Kit Explora les Punxes, a booklet of activities with which young and old can learn about Casa de les Punxes while having a good time.

In addition, the house has an extensive school program with various activities ranging from different workshops to guided tours. The didactic proposal of Casa de les Punxes bets on offering an approach to the artistic and historical patrimony of Catalonia. To this end, it uses activities aimed at children and young people that encourage the acquisition of habits and values to solve problems and situations, seeking to compromise all areas of the curriculum.  In addition to the dynamic and participative visit to the building, there are also activities on the origin and evolution of the legend of Sant Jordi, on the ornamental elements of the Casa de les Punxes, on its architect or on its historical and artistic context.


The well-known symbol of Barcelona designed by Antoni Gaudí, the Sagrada Familia, also thinks about how to please small visitors. The proposal for children’s activities in the Sagrada Familia has been changing over time in recent years, but what is clear is that the Sagrada Familia, like Casa de les Punxes, currently offers occasional children’s workshops.


Another house that joins the family plans is Casa Amatller. This house offers different family activities that delight the youngest, literally… some of them involve chocolate!


Finally, Casa Batlló, Antoni Gaudí’s emblematic building, also has its own activity focused on the family public, consisting of a special visit where the children and the history of the house are the protagonists.


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Castillo de Neuschwanstein

Puig i Cadafalch, with the Casa Terradas creates an urban castle with Wagnerian and medieval resonances in a unique space throughout the Eixample that became a symbol of what the architect wanted to make of Catalonia: a nation aware of its past and open to progress and novelties from abroad.

Casa Terradas or Casa de les Punxes, is one of the most monumental works of Puig i Cadafalch. This is known for being the most complex of its works projected at the beginning of the 20th century, not only for its monumentality but also for the great elaboration, attention and number of details. Puig i Cadafalch wanted to design a house that would stand out above all the others in the Eixample and he did it.

Casa de les Punxes is singular even from its sitting. Atypical and with an irregular hexagonal shape between the streets of Bruc and Rosselló and the Avinguda Diagonal, this plot of land made it possible to design a large isolated building, a rare occurrence in Barcelona’s new Eixample. The challenge was solved by the architect arranging the three doors of entrance of the buildings to the Diagonal Avenue and framing them with two towers of different measures and forms.

It is in this curious location that the monumental building stands, reminiscent of the incredible Neuschwanstein castle. This well-known German castle was a tribute of Luis II to the operas of Wagner. It is one of the most photographed castles in Germany and is the product of a mixture of architectural styles (mostly neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque) that provide a surprising aesthetic to the great building. His style moves away from all functionality to emphasize innovation and aesthetic experience. Casa de les Punxes draws on these Wagnerian influences and makes them its own in its six towers.

Castillo de Neuschwanstein
Neuschwanstein’s castle

Neuschwanstein’s is not the last of Puig i Cadafalch’s influences in Casa de les Punxes. According to the studies of the art historian Santiago Alcolea, it is very probable that the architect was influenced in his projection by the medieval castle of Pierrefonds, in France. This castle was restored by E. E. Viollet-le-Duque at the request of Napoleon III shortly before the birth of Puig i Cadafalch. Its structure based on a polygonal floor plan and circular towers with a conical roof responds to a functional and defensive design. This is the structure that can be found in Casa de les Punxes but with purely aesthetic purposes.

Castillo de Pierrefonds

The Casa de les Punxes is a large unitary block containing three buildings. In its six facades, it has a stone base that reaches up to the height of the ground floor. The upper parts are made of exposed brick, of a reddish tone. The grandstands on the main façades stand out for their levels with white stone squares covered with vegetal decoration. These do not follow the hierarchy of levels of the Eixample, but this situation is resolved by means of the interspersed balconies, which do respect it. The façades are crowned by triangular themes, the central vertex of which is occupied by a ceiling with different symbologies on the owners of the house, a sundial and the figure of Saint George with the controversial phrase: Saint patron saint of Catalonia, give us back our freedom. These triangular themes and the characteristic shape of its towers are what give the house its well-known nickname.

We could conclude that Puig i Cadafalch, with the Casa Terradas creates an urban castle with Wagnerian and medieval resonances in a unique space throughout the Eixample that became a symbol of what the architect wanted to make of Catalonia: a nation aware of its past and open to progress and novelties from abroad.

Source: Alcolea y Gil, Santiago y  Manent, Ramon. Puig i Cadafalch. Barcelona: Lunwerg Editores, 2006. Printed.


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Have you ever wondered which houses are essential that you must see them in your visit to Barcelona? We bring you a selection of modernist houses in Barcelona that you must add to your essential checklist.

Casa Batlló

Located at number 43 Passeig de Gràcia, Casa Batlló does not leave the walker indifferent. Its lively colors and meticulous decoration invite you to visit it. This house is one of the works of the naturist period of Antoni Gaudí and one of his best-known works.

La Pedrera

Built between 1906 and 1912, La Pedrera is another of the icons of Passeig de Gràcia. It also belongs to the naturalistic period of the famous architect, as we can see from the decorative motifs on its façade. The marine motifs stand out in its colorful decoration.

Casa Vicens

Casa Vicens stands out for being the first house designed by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona. This house was built between 1883 and 1885 and is considered one of the first works to inaugurate Art Nouveau in Catalonia.

Casa de les Punxes

Casa de les Punxes, revolutionary both artistically and technically, is the great work of Puig i Cadafalch. Located in the heart of Barcelona, between La Pedrera and La Sagrada Familia, it is a key piece for understanding Catalan Art Nouveau. Its monumentality is unparalleled, it contains three houses in a single building with multiple floors.

Casa Felip

The least known and most sober of the five, Casa Felip by the architect Telmo Fernández Janot, was built between 1911 and 1913. Its style is considered modernist with “baroque” flavors. A small jewel as unknown as it is surprising.

Do you know other houses that you think are essential in a visit to Barcelona?


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Did you know that Puig i Cadafalch had a great political personality? Not only because of his well-known Catalanism, but also on a local scale. The well-known modernist architect was an active figure in the politics of his time, we will show you why and how.

From a young age, Puig i Cadafalch was opposed to the unifying design standards of the Eixample in Barcelona and showed it in many different ways:

One of them, and perhaps the most noticeable, was the construction of some of his striking buildings, which stand out with the uniformity of their surroundings. An example of this could perfectly be the monumental Casa de les Punxes. 

Another way, no less important at the time, was his articles around 1900 in the prolific Catalan newspaper La Veu de Catalunya, where he expressed his discontent with the measures approved by the local government.

Because of this discontent and other personal motivations, the young Puig i Cadafalch decided to become an active part of the politics around him. In 1901, he became councillor in Barcelona City Council, coinciding with his publications in La Veu de Catalunya and the construction of his great work: the Casa de les Punxes.

Puig i Cadafalch was not enough content with his participation in municipal politics, so he went further. In 1907, Puig i Cadafalch began his activity as a parliamentarian in Madrid of Solidaritat Catalana, a unitary movement made up of groups and parties from Catalonia that existed between 1906 and 1909.

It was not until 1913 that Puig i Cadafalch’s political life took a broader and more transcendental direction. In that year, he became a representative of the Catalanist formation Lliga Regionalista and a firm defender of the Mancomunitat de Catalunya, still in formation. The Mancomunitat was a Catalan institution that existed between 1914 and 1925 to which the four councils of Catalonia ceded their powers. Among other achievements, this organism managed to elaborate the well-known Project Of Statute Of Autonomy Of Catalonia (1919). In 1917, Puig i Cadafalch became a member of the Consell Permanent de la Diputació. That same year, after the death of Prat de la Riba, he became president of the Consell de la Mancomunitat until 1924. The division and erosion of Catalanist parties in conflict with the interests of the Spanish government, as well as the dissolution of the Mancomunitat by Primo de Rivera in 1925, marked the decline of the political activity of the great modernist architect. Although he kept his militancy in the Regionalist League, he participated in a more reduced and discreet way.

Puig i Cadafalch, in short, realised that with his work as an architect and historian alone, he would not have enough to transform his surroundings and therefore took an active part in the politics of his time, transgressing not only his facet as an architect and historian, but complementing these with his political aspirations.

Source: Alcolea i Gil, Santiago y Manent, Ramon. Puig i Cadafalch. Barcelona: Lunwerg Editores, 2006. Print.


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Have you heard about all the concerts in Art Nouveau buildings in the end of summer in Barcelona? Whether you have enjoyed some of them or not… We bring you here a list with the most significant ones.

Magic Nights of Casa Batlló (daily)

To begin with, we have the prolific Casa Batlló Magic Nights. The entrance fee is 45€ on average and includes a glass of cava and a great variety of groups to choose from. These concerts take place in Gaudí’s iconic building from the 3rd of June to the 3rd of November, so you have time to think about which one goes with you the most.


La Pedrera Jazz (Fridays and Saturdays)

If you are a jazz lover, on Fridays and Saturdays from June to mid-September you can enjoy musical nights in this other iconic Gaudí house for 36€. This ticket also includes a drink and free access to the attic, a good option for a quiet Saturday night.


Les Nits del Palau Güell (Thursdays)

To finish Gaudí’s triad, we find the Nights of the Palau Güell. These concerts began on the 4th of July and were available until the 22nd of August. Their ticket included a 35€ drink, an aperitif, a visit and a concert. A perfect plan for a Thursday night.


Nits amb Ritme de Casa de les Punxes (Fridays and some Thursdays)

If you are looking for an equally elegant and cheaper option, we recommend the lesser known but no less amazing Casa de les Punxes. Every Friday, in the emblematic and enormous terrace of this building of the great Puig i Cadafalch the Nits amb Ritme are celebrated since June. With its entrance fee of 25€ (with a 25% discount for residents so far), you can discover the permanent exhibition of the house (free access), enjoy a drink and vibrate with its live concerts. Due to the success, the offer has been increased during September with sessions on the 13th, 19th and 27th with a succulent discount for residents. We recommend that you discover them on 19/09 with their special concert by La Mercè this summer.


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Do you know the indispensable triad of Catalan Art Nouveau? I’m sure you’ve heard their names. Yes, yes… we are talking about Antoni Gaudí, Domènech i Montaner i Puig i Cadafalch. Who else! We’ll tell you a little about them, in case you don’t know them yet.

Domènech i Montaner (1850-1923)

This great architect was a contemporary of Gaudí and a very active figure in contemporary Catalan politics. His work history includes the famous Recinte Modernista Sant Pau and the well-known Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona. Surely you have heard of these buildings and their exuberant beauty. The style of its buildings is characterized by rational structures and highly ornate facades, with every detail in the decoration.


Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926)

Can something new be said about the great architect of nature? Who does not know the Sagrada Familia? or la Pedrera? Casa Batlló? and Casa Vicens? We would never finish, because in addition to being one of the best-known architects, he was very prolific. Yes, we can tell you a couple of curiosities that not everyone knows. For example, Gaudí almost never designed his works in plans, but he did it on three-dimensional models in every detail. Thus, the collaborators could see it as he had projected it in his mind. Another detail that we confess is that the famous technique of the “trencadís” that we can see in his work, was invented by himself and was used for the first time in the construction of the finca Güell.


Puig i Cadafalch (1867-1956)

The young Puig i Cadafalch was one of Domènech i Montaner’s disciples. He is considered one of the last representatives of Catalan Art Nouveau and one of the first of Noucentisme. His work is usually divided into three periods: the Art Nouveau, the rational idealist and the monumentalist. Like his mentor, Puig i Cadafalch was an active agent in the contemporary politics around him. In his Art Nouveau period he produced such well-known works as Casa Amatller, Casa Martí or one of its great culminations: Casa Terradas or Casa de les Punxes, recently opened to the public.

If you want to go beyond the mainstream and the classic Gaudí routes, we bring you our proposal to go deeper into the work of Puig i Cadafalch.

Who does not know the Ruta del Modernisme in Barcelona? Thanks to it, we can discover the great jewels of Catalan Art Nouveau in Barcelona in an orderly and comfortable way. If you want to go beyond the mainstream and the classic Gaudí routes, we bring you our proposal to go deeper into the work of Puig i Cadafalch.

Our route proposal starts at Casa Macaya, in the heart of Avinguda Diagonal. This house is nowadays a cultural centre and has free access to some of its rooms, so it can be visited comfortably in a walk. If you want to go further, Cases Singulars organizes visits (in Catalan) every Monday in July and August in the morning and afternoon in this space. Nearby is the Casa Terradas or Casa de les Punxes, one of its most impressive and well-known works, which can be visited every day between 10 am and 7 pm (with the last access at 6 pm). Its museum has various types of visits for all tastes and interesting offers for the resident public. In addition, on the ground floor we can find the bar restaurant Matalaranya, a great option for breakfast. After breakfast, a few steps away lies the Palace of the Baron of Quadras, currently an institute. This building can be visited through Cases Singulars on Wednesday mornings. Returning to Diagonal, we find Can Serra, current headquarters of the Diputació de Barcelona and a little further on the Casa Pere Company, now converted into a Museum and Centre for Sports Studies.

Once the works of the Diagonal have been toured, when going down Passeig de Gràcia is when we come across the also very well-known Casa Amatller, which can be visited every day from 11 am to 6 pm. Once in Plaça Catalunya, we can discover the forgotten Casa Pich i Pon, which has hosted various companies and associations throughout its history. Descending from it through Avinguda de Portal de l’Àngel, we find Casa Martí and Casa Carreras: one in front of the other. These two houses have hosted (and one of them still hosts) the famous bar 4 Gats. If you want to eat at it, we recommend booking in advance. Less than 5 minutes walking, in Via Laietana, we can glimpse the main facade of the little-known Casa Guarro.

To finish the route, we must go to Plaça Espanya and enjoy it, as it is also the work of Puig i Cadafalch. In one of its margins we can admire the old Casaramona Factory and the Palaces of Alfonoso XIII and Victoria Eugenia, both part of the Axis of the 1929 Universal Exhibition (as well as the square).

Extra: If you still want to discover Puig i Cadafalch, we recommend that you go and discover his most unknown works from the upper part of the city, such as Casa Sastre i Marquès, Rosa Alemany, Muley-Afid or Casa Muntades. None of these latter houses can be visited, but you can admire their façades.


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Francesc Berenguer was the son of one of Gaudí’s primary school teachers, with whom he would end up studying architecture and working.

Retrat de Francesc Berenguer i Mestres, arquitecte modernista català (1866.1914)

Francesc Berenguer i Mestres is a little-known figure in Catalan Art Nouveau. Although he worked as such, he never obtained the title of architect. This condition prevented him from signing projects, so that many of the works in which he collaborated are not recognised. Today, on the 153rd anniversary of his birth, we bring you his curious and interesting history.

Francesc Berenguer was born in Reus on 21 July 1866 and died 47 years later, on 8 February 1914. Francesc Berenguer was the son of one of Gaudí’s primary school teachers, with whom he would end up studying architecture and working. Berenguer studied architecture between 1882 and 1888 but never graduated, which meant he could not sign the plans he designed. Other Art Nouveau architects were those who claimed his plans, such as Juan Rubió, Pascual and Tintorer or Gaudi himself. From 1887 until his death, Berenguer worked for Gaudí, supporting him in large projects such as the Güell Palace or the Sagrada Familia. Most of his attributions are discussed due to the problems surrounding the authorship of the projects.

His son, Francesc Berenguer i Bellvehí, also studied architecture, obtaining the title in 1914. Berenguer’s son also adopted the Art Nouveau style in his works. He worked with Gaudí, his father and other Art Nouveau architects in and around Barcelona, as did his father, although he was able to sign his own projects.

Art Nouveau architecture hides the names of such curious figures as this one. Do you know everybody who collaborated in the construction and decoration of La Pedrera? Casa Amatller? Casa de les Punxes? Catalan Art Nouveau still hides many secrets in its museums in Barcelona.


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