Gaudí that Barcelona is not loved

BarcelonaThe pavilions of the Güell estate are one of the most emblematic works of Antoni Gaudí –the first commission from the patron Eusebi Güell to the architect– and, at the same time, one of the least popular. Probably a factor as to why they’re doing so poorly. Although it seems more ferocious than that of Parc Güell, the wrought iron dragon on the door of the pavilions (located on Avinguda de Pedralbes) has not been strong enough to make them more accessible, despite being part of some tourist routes. and travel guides.

The large exhibition that the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) dedicates to the architect, which includes a piece from this place, does not seem to have been a turning point either. While the other iconic buildings of the author of Casa Batlló and Parc Güell have gained visitors year after year, the pavilions of the Güell estate remain closed and barred. And this is especially relevant because they were the work where Gaudí began to use the Catalan vault and experiment with the trencadís technique.

The restoration of the pavilions, owned by the University of Barcelona (UB), has been dilated over the years due to institutional impassivity. Seven years after the announcement of the works and a transfer agreement ending in 2024, the Municipal Institute of Urban Landscape and Quality of Life (IMPUQV) has halved the comprehensive restoration of all the pavilions, the garden fences and the garden itself. A few years ago, the first adaptation works were carried out and the City Council says that another phase has already been carried out, which includes the opening of a new access to preserve the Dragon’s Gate and has been installed. A bar with accessible services. Maintenance and protection of items in poor condition have also been carried out.

To restore the pavilions to their splendor, the restorers will have to deal with numerous problems such as dampness on the walls and roof of the guard’s house, where bottles were made when it fell into disuse. There is also dampness on the deck of the stables and the chopper. For all this, the pavilions were selected by the World Monuments Fund’s (WMF) Watch 2014 program as World Architectural and Cultural Heritage at Risk.

“There’s a lot of work to be done”

However, the works have been stopped again and the schedule for the next phases has not yet been finalized. Meanwhile, the site has been closed to visitors since June 2018, according to its website. “It is one of the pieces of the relationship between the City Council and the University that are more backward, there is a lot of work to be done”, acknowledges the current Vice-Rector for Heritage and Cultural Activities, Agustí Alcoberro. Talks between the UB and Barcelona City Council are expected to resume in January. The estimated budget for the works is 1.59 million euros, and if the covid had not stopped them on several occasions and had not altered the economic forecasts, it was planned to finish them by the end of 2024. Ten will have passed. years.

Eusebi Güell’s summer house

The pavilions were built between 1884 and 1887, in parallel with the construction of the Casa Vicens. The commission that Eusebi Güell gave to Gaudí consisted of designing the gardens of his summer palace in Les Corts de Sarrià (work of the architect Joan Martorell), building the entrance gates throughout the perimeter and the two access pavilions (the stables and the porter’s lodge). When Eusebi Güell died, the heirs ceded the house and part of the estate to the monarchy for the construction of the Royal Palace of Pedralbes, and Gaudí’s pavilions were left outside the enclosure. In 1950, the University of Barcelona acquired a plot of land that ran from Avinguda de la Diagonal to Carrer de George Collins, and which included the two pavilions, to build the new university city. The pavilions were declared a national historic-artistic monument in 1969.

The dragon on the fence of the pavilions of the Güell estate
The guardian's house of the Güell estate

According to the 2014 announcement, which the City Council does not want to update now, the building walls erected in the 1960s could be replaced by open fences that would allow the interior of the building to be seen from the street. It was also planned to turn the space into a museum that recreated the daily life of the time with furniture and other items. At that time, the council guaranteed a compensation of 100,000 euros per year, in which the profits from income from tourism and cultural activities were distributed 60% for the Municipal Institute and 40% for the UB.

A decade later, the small print of this agreement will have to be seen, which should finally allow a new point to be added to the map of Gaudí’s emblematic and visitable buildings in Barcelona. Just remember that the other buildings of the modernist architect in the city received in 2019 about 10.3 million visitors and they had an economic impact of approximately 195 million euros. A figure that demonstrates the interest of locals and outsiders alike. The determination of the administrations is now lacking.

The challenge will also be for restaurateurs. To deepen the knowledge of the building with the utmost precision, state-of-the-art techniques with 3D scanner, photogrammetry and thermography have now been used, as specified by the Municipal Institute.

The stables of the Güell estate
Detail of a fan dome in the pavilions of the Güell estate

Famous and unknown inside

In the Güell pavilions, one of which housed the headquarters of the Gaudí Chair between 1977 and 2010, Gaudí used a wide variety of geometries and materials such as “flat brick vault structures, parabolic arches, hyperbolic dome, walls of brick, prefabricated artificial stone cladding and ceramic finishes ”, they explain from the Municipal Institute of Urban Landscape. In parallel to all this, the gateway, evocative of Atlantis by Jacint Verdaguer, with the dragon Ladó guarding the garden of the Hesperides and the golden apples, is considered “a great wrought iron sculpture”.

“In the pavilions of the Güell estate, Gaudí combines very simple structural elements, such as the Catalan vaults and the parabolic arches of the paintings, which will be basic in his later work,” says the group’s declaration file as Cultural Asset of National Interest. There are also “decorative motifs that still have an Islamic flavor”, such as “exposed brick walls and mud with a false mosaic coating next to real polychrome mosaic tiles of Valencia of various colors” mainly in the small fan domes. A whole wealth that should come to light.


Source: Ara.cat – Portada by www.ara.cat.

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