Preserving Gaudí’s Identity
Creativity and genius are the source of the constant wonder that Antoni Gaudí’s work produces. It is no surprise that seven of his creations are covered by UNESCO World Heritage recognition and, similarly, it seems that every time work is done to restore or maintain one, new, unknown details come to light. This also held true for Casa Batlló when restoration work was done as part of a master plan to upgrade the building to meet current fire safety regulations and to improve the visitor experience. On this specific occasion, when the plan was to build a staircase and install an elevator connecting all the floors, from the basement to the attic, the workers discovered that different types of mortar had been used to apply the colored ceramic fragments (trencadís, or broken mosaics), an iconic element that is like a hallmark for Gaudí’s work.
Aside from such discoveries, the real challenge for any such project is to be able to protect the existing heritage and historical identity of the monument, but in the case of Casa Batlló this brings a further problem, as it becomes necessary to determine what is actually Gaudí’s work and what is by the original designer, Emil Sala Cortés.
“The master plan approved in 2014 for the work on Casa Batlló established an underlying criterion that the restoration of Gaudí’s works had to ensure the original architectonic choices were maintained”, explained Joan Olona, one of the experts who worked on the design team for the restoration. “The work could not be solely practical, but had to attempt to reconstruct the critical context of the architectural creation. Plus, Casa Batlló is already the result of a project by Gaudí on an existing building”. Following this master plan, Mapei was brought in to provide structural reinforcement and for the restoration of the crystal spheres above the chimneys. Although the staircase did not create stress for the nearby walls, Mapei still needed to reinforce them by finding a solution using composite materials. A similar approach was adopted to the structural reinforcement of the arches and vaults of the various interior environments and the mansard, and to shore up the substrate for Gaudí’s glass and ceramic trencadís.
Structural reinforcement and consolidation of walls: Planitop HDM Restauro, Mapegrid G 220, Mape-Antique FC Civile, MapeWrap G Fiocco
Fastening the crystal spheres on the chimneys: Mape-Antique I, MapeWrap G Fiocco