1875 – 1960Life of the Amatller Family

A staggered façade that would revolutionise the Eixample of Barcelona


Façade before and after

History
In 1898, Antoni Amatller bought a building on Passeig de Gràcia to make it his new home. This previous building had been built in 1875 following the Eixample de Cerdà habitability criteria.

After the demolition of Barcelona’s walls in 1854, this had enabled the construction of a widening of the city on a land that was completely empty. In order for the growth to be orderly, the government commissioned a project from engineer Ildefonso Cerdà: in addition to the famous chamfered grids, the dwellings had a height limit and had to show a restrained façade. And the house that Antoni Amatller had bought responded to this simplicity.

The building was located right on Passeig de Gràcia, the elegant boulevard that connected the old walled city of Barcelona with the Vila de Gràcia. The aristocracy and the local bourgeoisie bought their houses in this avenue to be able to be in the new urban area where the most exclusive boutiques were also concentrated.

Antoni Amatller contracted the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch to carry out a profound reform of the building in which the building was radically transformed. The rich ornamentation of the new façade and the height reached by its staggered finish broke the rigid regulations of the Cerdà Plan for the first time.


The building
Antoni Amatller and his daughter Teresa lived on the main floor of the building. The rest of the property was rented, as were the commercial premises of the façade. From Passeig de Gràcia you enter a magnificent lobby that leads to a glass door in which was the garage and access to kitchens and rooms for the staff. This space is currently occupied by the cafeteria where you can have a hot chocolate according to the original recipe of Chocolates Amatller.

The vestibule opens onto a courtyard from which the monumental staircase leading to the main floor of the Amatller family rises, decorated with sculptures that are making chocolate and covered by a luminous and spectacular modernist skylight. There is also another access for the rest of the dwellings with a more modest staircase and a vintage elevator that is still in operation.


Main floor
The first floor was the home of Antoni Amatller and his daughter Teresa. To the splendid ornamentation of Catalan modernist architecture must be added that of the furniture, also designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and that of the works of art in the Antoni Amatller collection. All in all, Puig i Cadafalch’s overall design of the Casa Amatller and the collective effort of a good number of artists and craftsmen who followed his orders managed to create a unitary architectural work.

Master entrance hall with views of the living room

The house is divided into a public area, which overlooks the rear garden, and a private area, situated on the façade line. In the centre of the house is Antoni Amatller’s office, at a point from which he could control the entrance to the staff quarters and the neighbours’ staircase. In the public rooms the decoration supports an iconographic discourse that highlights the achievements of the Amatller family, such as, for example, the majestic fireplace in the hall, in which the figures of a Castilian princess and an Aztec princess represent the union necessary to produce chocolate. In the private rooms the sculptural ornamentation helps to define the virtues of Antoni Amatller and his daughter Teresa according to the values of the time.

Music room

The best comforts of the time were installed in Casa Amatller: a lift for the residents; technologies for the staff, such as the dumb waiter that brought food from the kitchen to the first floor; and electric lighting, an innovation in 1900, complemented by gas lighting that was used when the electricity supply failed.