The façade is back!
Discover the changes made to the restored façade of Casa Batlló and how we have recovered all of its splendour
In 2019 the façade of Casa Batlló has undergone an historic restoration with the objective of recovering all of its shine, splendour and authenticity. After two years of analysis and planning, professionals from 7 different fields have worked on the façade to clean it, restore it and apply different conservation techniques, a particularly complicated process given that it is formed by 5 different materials (stone, iron, ceramic, glass and wood), each requiring a specific treatment.
The façade was last restored in 2001, a few years before being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Below we will explain the main interventions carried out on each of the materials and the most visible changes to the façade after its restoration.
One of the façade’s most surprising materials is glass, used in all of the pieces forming the trencadís, a type of decoration with broken mosaic. Besides cleaning them, all of the pieces that have disappeared over time have been restored, accurately replicating each one. The cleaning process was carried out with water mist at a high temperature, and with plastic brushes and scalpels when necessary. This work has made it possible to restore the original shine of the trencadís, completing a multicoloured canvas that changes throughout the day, depending on the light. The original colour of the mortar that connects the different pieces has also been restored, leading to the discovery of 4 white bands that run diagonally across the façade. Finally, work has also been carried out on the leaded glass found on the Gallery. The edges of the leaded glass have been gold-plated, recovering its original appearance.
One of the greatest challenges surrounding this restoration was to recover the ceramic tiles, a particularly complicated process due to their colour scheme and the state of disrepair of the enamel of some of the tiles. These tiles can be found in 3 different places:
– On the roof formed by corrugated tiles.
– On the four-armed cross that crowns the roof.
– On the ceramic discs that are distributed amidst the trencadís.
Besides cleaning and protecting these tiles, some of them have also been treated. When part of the enamel disappears, this sometimes leads to biological life on the tiles (mould, bacteria…). In this case, such biological life must be removed and the tile must once again be protected.
Another of the façade’s most striking elements are the balcony railings, made from wrought iron. After stripping them, we have restored their original colour, and today they have golden bars and off-white railings, originally painted with white lead, a pigment traditionally used in artistic painting. We have also restored some damaged elements, such as the beam on the upper balcony, used to lift furniture, and its chains. Finally, we have protected all of the iron to facilitate its future conservation.
All of the wood on the façade has also been restored, a material that is particularly visible on the window shutters. In parts where the wood was broken, new wood has been added with the same characteristics as the original. Most of it is early 20th Century melis pine and additions have been carried out with wood from the same period and of the same type, obtained by our restoration team from workshops and warehouses. This restoration has revealed two different shades of green in the wood, one lighter shade on the windows and gallery and a darker shade on the shutters.
Stone features prominently on the lower area of the façade, especially on the Ground Floor and the main Gallery. After a thorough cleaning process using steam and a brush, we have eliminated all existing dirt, which is basically dust and pollution that has accumulated over the years. We have also filled in some holes that could be found between the different blocks and, finally, we have protected all of the stone with a water-repellent product to facilitate its future conservation. This prevents the dirt from penetrating into the stone, meaning that it can be easily removed with water and enabling the stone to breathe. As a result, the stone has recovered its original colour and grain, making the pattern of the different blocks more visible.
Thanks to the work of hundreds of professionals and the dedication of the Bernat family, who own the building, today you can enjoy the façade of Casa Batlló as it was the very first day, a journey to the origin that you can continue by visiting inside the House or on our website, in the section dedicated to the restoration.
With this intervention, we hope to place value on a masterpiece by the creative genius, Gaudí, who combined tradition and innovation in an extraordinary manner, providing the House with exceptional universal value.
Today, a century later, the façade is back for all to enjoy. And the journey continues.