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Casa Batllˇ, in the ICU
Pollution afflicts buildings and coats them with a second skin of grime. This is what has happened to Casa Batllˇ, on Passeig de GrÓcia. A holistic rehabilitation will recover the original luminous appearance it had in 1906, when GaudÝ created it.
Scaffolding will cover the facade of the building throughout the month-long restoration project.

Barcelona.- Casa Batllˇ, Antoni GaudÝ's most colorful building, will be covered with scaffolding for one month. Seguros Iberia, the company owned by the Bernat family, which in turn owns this edifice, found loose stones on the facade and areas of the trencadÝs (ceramic fragments) that were starting to fade. There was also danger of detachments that could affect passersby. The Barcelona City Council and the Government of Catalonia have both approved the holistic rehabilitation plan covering the main facade, the roof, the central skylight and the ventilation towers. Seguros Iberia requested a works permit from the Commission on Urban Planning and Infrastructure on July 21, 1999. The work was required to begin within one year from that date; the work is allowed to last up to one year.

The objective of this operation, according to the spokesperson of Seguros Iberia, is "to recover the work of GaudÝ in its original condition, which had been lost due to the grime caused by pollution." The scaffolding was installed throughout the last week. Rehabilitation work begins on Monday. Because of the property's unique nature, the work will be monitored by the architectural heritage department of the city council. The work will be accelerated, with several shifts every day. It will be finished in one month. The stone from Montju´c, blackened by grime, will be cleaned with a moisture-proofing system, with water. The windows and other damaged elements will be repaired and painted with the original green-gray color chosen by GaudÝ. Faded ceramic fragments will be replaced, as will glass that has been broken. The iron railings will also be restored. Lighting will be improved.

Casa Batllˇ was built between 1904 and 1906, commissioned by textile magnate Josep Batllˇ. It was built before Casa MilÓ, "La Pedrera." In reality, GaudÝ designed the facade for an existing building located next to Casa Amatller, designed by his colleague, Puig i Cadafalch. He matched the height of the neighboring building. GaudÝ had the facade of Casa Batllˇ removed from the second floor up and propped up the rest in a very complex operation that he solved easily. According to the testimony of the contractor Josep Bayˇ, recorded by Joan Bassegoda Nonell, GaudÝ directed the workers from the sidewalk of the Passeig de GrÓcia. He ordered them to pick pieces of different colors and textures from baskets, and gave them instructions on how to place them, forming different hues.

This little house, squeezed in between two others, owes its uniqueness to the contrast between the stone from Montju´c, which forms curls and undulations that were sculpted by hand, and the cheerful ceramics it is coated with. The pink, green and blue colors reflect the morning sunlight. GaudÝ designed mask-shaped rails and a main balcony that includes a series of small columns. At first, the house was nicknamed casa de los huesos (house of bones), alluding to the columns, although others call it the dragon house, because the ceramics on the facade are reminiscent of the scales of the mythological creature. In addition, there is a dragon crafted from glass and tiles hidden on the roof, behind the undulations of the facade.

El Periˇdico de Catalunya
August 2000

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