Can Trias and the frustrated dream of Antoni Gaudí and Eusebi Güell

Can Trias and the frustrated dream of Antoni Gaudí and Eusebi Güell
Can Trias and the frustrated dream of Antoni Gaudí and Eusebi Güell

A complete visit to the Park Güell in Barcelona includes passing through some of the most famous spaces of this complex recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984: the entrance and the gatehouse pavilions, the dragon fountain, the hypostyle hall, the viaducts and above all the Plaza de la Natura with its winding ‘trencadís’ benches. Now, to get to know this work by Antoni Gaudí in more detail, you have to go around the entire complex, also visiting the Casa Museu, the Tres Creus hill and, almost at the top of everything, Can Trias, a private family residence that unintentionally became a permanent example of Eusebi Güell’s frustrated dream. A historic property that the City Council is now considering expropriating.

It is known that The Park Güell complex was conceived as a development for well-off families, which sought to follow the British condominium project – hence the spelling ‘Park’, with a k – and which today we would call high-rise private developmentand that’s why Eusebi Güell acquired the estate of Can Montaner de Dalt Located in what was then called Muntanya Pelada, it was based on previous urban development projects. In 1900, Güell commissioned the development to his chief architect, Antoni Gaudí, who designed the layout of paths, viaducts and stairs that linked the planned plots, as well as common areas, such as the hypostyle hall, which was to house a market, and the central square, which was to be the backbone of that new neighbourhood that It would include sixty homes to bring together the best of Barcelona society.

Park Güell, one of the most visited spaces in Barcelona, ​​was originally intended to be a private development for wealthy families, but of the 60 plots planned, only two were built on / Photo: EFE

Now, that project did not go well, and Historically, several reasons have been pointed out for that failure.from the fact, which still holds today, that poor communication with the city centreuntil the preference of the bourgeoisie to settle in the Eixample, among other reasons because this more central location allowed what the private condominium formula did not allow, that is, flaunt power and money before all citizensOther reasons given were related to the prices of the plots and the restrictions that were to be imposed on private individuals in their use, such as the reduced building capacity, as well as the political and social instability of the early twentieth century.

Only two of the sixty planned houses were built.

Whatever the case, the fact is that, apart from the entrance pavilions to the park – the concierge and the guard’s house – and the pre-existing estate of Can Montaner de Dalt or Can Larrald, which Güell had Gaudí renovate to convert it into a family residence and which currently houses the Baldiri Reixach public school, of what was to be that luxury development with sixty plots only two towers were built, the current Casa Museu, which was nothing more than what we would now call a ‘show apartment’, that is, the show house which was done to convince potential buyers, and Can Trias.

Only two houses, both of which were acquired by people close to Güell.. The model house was built in 1902 by Josep Pardo i Casanovas and in 1906 it was bought by Antoni Gaudí himself, who went to live with his father and niece, thus becoming one of the few residents of Park Güell. Can Trias, for its part, was built between 1903 and 1906 by the architect Juli Batllevell i Arús commissioned by Martí Trias i Domènech, friend and lawyer of Eusebi Güell. However, while the rest of the buildings and the entire complex ended up, over time, in the hands of the Barcelona City Council, It so happens that Can Trias has remainedas a reflection of the frustrated dream of Gaudí and Güell, as the only privately owned and inhabited house in the park.

Can Trias is located at the top of Park Güell and has become, more than a hundred years after its construction, the only privately owned and inhabited house in the complex created by Antoni Gaudí / Photo: Enfo

In fact, more than a century after its construction, the Can Trias estate remains the property of the heirs of Martí Triasbut this situation could change in the short or medium term, since the Barcelona City Council has announced its intention to expropriate this property. In fact, according to a series of responses about Park Güell, the councillor for the district of Gràcia, Laia Bonet, has reported that the acquisition has a “Initial allocation of 2.8 million euros that can be increased to 4 million“. With everything, Future plans for Can Trias have not been revealed once it is municipal property, although with its acquisition the entire site would be public.

Detail of the old Civil Guard barracks on Sant Josep de la Muntanya avenue, work of the architect Juli Batllevell, disciple of Domènech i Montaner and collaborator of Gaudí / Photo: Marcos Brosel

One of the best-known buildings by Juli Batllevell, architect of Can Trias, is the Casa Antònia Burès on Ausiàs Marc street, recognizable by the tree-like details on the ground floor / Photo: Pere López Brosa

The Can Trias estate, also known as Casa Trias, was work of architect Juli Batllevell i Arús, disciple of Lluís Domènech i Montaner and collaborator of Antoni Gaudí. With a lot of work in his native Sabadell, Batllevell is the author, among other works in Barcelona, ​​of Casa Antoni Salvadó, in calle Casp, 16; the old barracks of the Civil Guard at 31-35 Santuari de Sant Josep de la Muntanya avenue -which was specifically intended to provide security for Park Güell-, and the Casa Antònia Burés on Ausiàs Marc street 42-46, easily recognisable by the tree motifs on the ground floor.

According to the corresponding file of the Inventory of the Architectural Heritage of Catalonia, Can Trias is a building “of a highly enriched construction in the face of modernism” and its “rectangular floor plan with asymmetrical furnishings that form several facades” stands out, its “tribune with arched windows” and, in the upper part, “a total of 22 windows with forks, in the form of an attic,” in addition to having a “tower with a gallery” and being “surrounded by a garden area and surrounded by a stone fence.” Now, this work that can be classified as modernism has all the numbers of passing into the hands of the Barcelona City Council in the medium term and putting an end, more than a hundred years later, to the never-fulfilled dream of turning that park into a private, luxury residential area.

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