Barcelona's Casa Vicens (1888), a unique oasis of calm with an Oriental and Moorish flavour, stands in the peaceful neighbourhood of Gràcia. The building is covered with spectacular green and white tiles and was Gaudí's first major commission, which saw him following the vogue for Oriental and Eastern motifs while developing his own unique style.
It was no coincidence that Manuel Vicens Montaner, who commissioned the building from the young Antoni Gaudí, was a tile manufacturer. These are the key elements he used combined with undressed stone and red brick in the Casa Vicens, in Barcelona's Gràcia neighbourhood. Gaudí based his design for the pressed tiles on the French marigold (Tagetes Patula) which grew in the grounds of the estate, marking the beginning of his widespread use of nature as an inspiration and a model. If you look beyond the decoration you'll see the historicist Mudejar style as well as the forms which are Indian and Japanese in inspiration. Gaudí paid particular attention to the corners of the building, which were ridged in order to avoid the austere appearance of classical architecture. This orientalised exoticism was greeted with enthusiasm by the elite classes at the time in Barcelona. This is why it should come as no surprise that Gaudí's first building gained a much more enthusiastic reception than his later landmarks buildings, such as " La Pedrera".
The Casa Vicens is a private building and is closed to visitors. However, you can see the exterior of the building and admire the cast-iron railings with their plant motifs which are so characteristic of Gaudí's work. Gaudí designed the railings by making clay models of the resplendent leaves of the fan palm.
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