Looking like stack of bones and skulls that were sitting underneath a dragon, Casa Batllo probably is the most bizarre residential building in the world. Its fairytale appearance invites the wildest imagination of anyone who sees it.
Situated at one of Baracelona’s most exclusive and fashionable neighborhoods, Casa Batllo was only a conventional apartment built in 1877 for middle class family when Josep Batllo, the owner of the building commissioned a remarkably talented architect, Antoni Gaudi to renovate it. Disregarding all building regulation at that time, Gaudi set to work in 1904. He finished the project in 1906. It looks totallydifferent than before and had unusual dramatic effect. No wonder this building was awarded as one of the best buildings by Barcelona City Council in 1906 and listed as UNESCO World Heritage in 2005
Gaudi focused on designing an organic, curved building with no straight line. Everything is made irregular and uneven. The oval windows with varying size go with balconies that look like skulls supported by sandstone columns that look like bones. All of these combined with dragon-like arched roof and medieval style turret gives the building its fairytale appearance.
The aquatic theme inside and outside the building can be seen from the dominant blue shades color and the ocean wave’s shapes of the building. The structure looks a little medieval, a little baroque, a little art nouveau, a little gothic and a little modern. Apparently, the poetic design of Casa Batllo cannot be definitely classified into any architectural style.
Materials, Colors and Ornaments
Gaudi applied pieces of broken ceramics and recycled glass of brilliant shades of orange to blue color known as trecandis for the mosaic on the upper part of the exterior sandstone wall. Meanwhile the roof is covered with polychromes ceramic tiles of various colors not less brilliant than the ones use for the facade. Gaudi was the first environmentalist architect as he used leftover materials from his other projects to form the impressive twisted façade of Casa Batllo.
Gaudi was a religious man and he reflected his devout Christianity by adding four branches of crosses on the top of the turret. The crosses symbolize the sword of St. George, the patron of Catalonia that plunged into the dragon’s belly.
When the sun or any light shines on the lime mortars and mosaic that cover uneven surface of the building, the optical effect will be intensified and the building will shine in glorious color.