On the 12th of March 1898, the industrialist chocolatier Antoni Amatller Costa (1851-1910), bought a 1,415 m2 property, at number 101 (subsequently 41) Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona, which consisted of a ground floor, four further floors and a garden a little more than 800 m2. He paid 490,000 pesetas. It was a building that had been built in 1875 under the direction of master builder Antoni Robert, following the indications given in the Cerdà plan. One of Antoni Robert’s drawings can be found at the Municipal Administration Archive which shows the elevation of the façade, which is of a classic symmetrical style, with central access, two shops on either side and four balconies on each floor. According to this plan, the property was supposed to comprise a ground floor and three other floors, but during construction a fourth one was added, which must have been endorsed by Antoni Amatller.
Antoni Amatller commissioned Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867-1956) to remodel the building which he had bought, in order to turn it into his place of residence. Trained in the Renaissance period, the architect, politician and art historian had a unique architectural conception. In his writings he explains that Catalonia was a country that had been one of the great powers of the medieval Mediterranean and that, having gone through several centuries of decline, it had recuperated its economic power throughout the 19th century thanks to industrialisation. The country needed to project a new image, by means of a more modern style of architecture (from which Modernisme stemmed) aiming to demonstrate the drive that Catalan society had recovered; architecture reminiscent of the glories of the past, using traditional arts as a base and subsequently adapting them to new materials and new requirements. An essential factor in accomplishing this was the collaboration of craftsmen who, revived and fortified by the historical and literary renaissance, came together to form the group of people able to convert the architect’s plans into reality. They partook in the most innovative tendencies that were transforming the European capitals.The involvement of Puig i Cadafalch brought about a radical transformation of the building, including
- the demolition and subsequent rebuilding of the façade,
- the construction of a photographic studio on the roof,
- the restructure and redecoration of the ground floor (including the main stairwell),
- substantial changes in the distribution and integral redecoration of the man floor,
- the incorporation of an electric lift and the installation of a rotating platform for the owner’s automobile
- and the refurbishing of kitchens and bathrooms in all of the dwellings