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)

Sala Hipóstila and Greek Theatre

When the Ayuntamiento (City Hall) and the Ministerio de Cultura (Department of Culture of Spain's national government) initiated a restoration project of these parts of Parc Güell, the Ayuntamiento asked me to perform a historical-descriptive study of the park, a project to establish regulations for the area's future operation, and the supervision of all construction.

I delivered the documents as requested and, for a short time, had the opportunity to visit the work site together with the architects who directed the project.

It is not my intention to criticize the work that has been done, and I will limit myself to state what I believe should have been done.

The Sala Hipóstila and the plaza had been restored repeatedly. I do not believe that there was a need for a deep structural restoration, but rather a continuation of the maintenance work.

The neighboring school should have been removed from the park and the building should have been restored to the condition it was in 1922 (Casa Larrard, where Mr. Eusebi Güell Bacigalupi lived, and died on July 9, 1918).

The "trencadís" on the lower part of the columns of the Sala Hipóstila and the bench of the Greek Theatre is an extraordinary example of Gaudí's artistic work and should have been fully preserved, taking care to change only the pieces that had lost their varnish. These pieces should have been replaced with fragments of Valencian tile, antique if possible, or manufactured with procedures from the turn of the century. The operation would have required only a team with a bricklayer, expert in "trencadís," and a couple of bricklayer's assistants. They would have had to begin the restoration at one end of the bench and, once the other end of the bench was reached, begin the process again-always under the concept of maintenance, and never as an aggressive restoration.

When Gaudí made the bench he used specialized workers in the color section, and laborers on the white part. He formed a group of workers and showed them a pile of white tiles from Valencia and told them to separate those with bluish, yellowish or other tones. Those that were not capable of correctly separating the shades were not used in the construction of the bench.

A method should have been found to allow visits to the cistern below the Sala Hipóstila, since it is an extraordinary architectural space, which is totally unknown to the public.

In general, what this part of the park needed was continuous maintenance with successive annual investments, with qualified personnel and assiduous management, and to avoid the high-volume expense made at once.

The headpiece of the back of the bench, and the horizontal line halfway up the back, where there are incisions and colors made by Josep Maria Jujol, deserved special attention. The bench should have been treated as a work of art, as if it was a painting by a great master, on which aggressive actions, or actions by non-specialized persons, cannot be taken.

Joan Bassegoda Nonell, Hon. FAIA
Director of the Chair of Gaudí

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