The Restoration of the Sala Hipóstila and the bench of Parc Güell

Restorative Criteria

Enthusiasm and respect

A Work of Craftsmanship

Sala Hipóstila and Greek Theatre

Phases of implementation

The Restoration of Parc Güell (November 1987- June 1994)

Enthusiasm and respect

When we were asked to perform the restoration of Parc Güell, it provoked in us a certain disturbance, mixed emotions, enthusiasm and respect, not so much for of the difficulty of the project, as for its transcendence as one of Antoni Gaudí's most representative works.

Both the architect and his works have become, in recent years, assets of great significance to the city of Barcelona, since they have become emblems for her recognition in foreign lands.

The restoration project was centered on the part in the worst condition-the roof of the Sala Hipóstila-and it was determined that this part of the park had been repaired previously on numerous occasions. These repairs included work on the perimetric ceramic bench, on the "trencadís" covering of the Sala's ceiling, and on some of the decorative elements of the columns which support the roof (which were removed).

After a minute observation of the structure's pathology, and some probing in its most significant elements, we can verify the critical structural problems that the roof had, as well as the urgency for repairing the structure's damaged parts. The solution that was chosen was to rebuild the lintels that, column to column, support, in part, the vaults, which form the ceiling.

During the restoration, the ingenious system devised by Gaudí in order to support the perimetric bench through metallic porticos-which, in general, were in good condition, except for some points effected by corrosion caused by the filtration of water-was discovered. The fill of the plaza to restore its original level was made with "árido ligero" (expanded clay), which had two purposes: first, to reduce the weight of the ceiling and, second, to reduce the problems of dilation, which had caused the movements and fissures which had been produced in the structure. The most delicate problem was the restoration of the ceramic coverings-"trencadís"-on the vaulted ceiling of the Sala Hipóstila and, even more so, the most important work in Parc Güell: the perimetric bench.

The white ceramic, which originally proceeds from the remains of tiles from Valencia rejected for their discoloring, presents, according to our estimation, 21 different hues of white, from blue to salmon. These hues had to be manufactured in order to mix them, and were used to complete the parts which were deteriorated, had disappeared, had been recklessly restored or were destroyed in the process of structural repair. On the bench, the replaced white ceramic was made with earthware instead of Valencian tile, because it is more exposed to the elements and erosion, and this material substantially improves the resistance of the covering material.

The perforated patterns used in the elaboration of the polychromatic tiles were obtained, so it was easy to reproduce them to replace those pieces which had completely lost their enamel. The bench headpieces and the lumbar molding, which had been replaced with neutral and flat colors in previous restorations, were also replaced, with more pieces made by Cumella, the ceramist, in colors matching the tone of the original pieces which still remained, and are still on the bench after the project.

The objective of the restoration was to be faithful not only in maintaining the image of the monument in all its detail, but also in the operations of structural reconstruction. Its elements have been remade in a way that corresponds to its stability, using methods identical to the original construction, employing, however, means and materials of greater quality and endurance, which the modern construction industry provides.

J.A. Martínez Lapeña and Elies Torres, Architects.

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