Casa Tosquella begins to reveal its secrets

Putxet's modernist treasure is still in good condition and maintains its decoration

3 min
One of the stained glass windows of the Tosquella House

BarcelonaThis Wednesday Casa Tosquella opened its doors to the press for the first time since the Barcelona City Council bought it in November. And everything indicates a good restoration of this modernist jewel will shine again with the brightness and colours architect Eduard Maria Balcells gave it in 1907, with a profusion of stucco, stained glass, frames, mouldings, wrought iron elements, paintings and pavements, although in some parts of the building the decoration has been darkened and has suffered damage. In some rooms there is still furniture, objects and junk belonging to the former owners, but the eyes are immediately drawn to details such as the toads and fish on the ceiling of the entrance porch, the stained glass windows that look like the open tail of a peacock and the animals on the wallpaper in one of the rooms, an unusual gathering of cats, dogs, cows and camels.

Casa Tosquella's stained glass.
Animal wallpaper at Casa Tosquella.

Casa Tosquella was left uninhabited in 2018. This Sunday, it will open its doors to the public for the first time since it became Council property as part of the Espais Ocults architecture festival (already sold out). Organisers say that, if accessibility and safety of visitors can be guaranteed, it is "quite possible" that Casa Tosquella will reopen, longer and with more capacity, in the next edition of 48H Open House Barcelona, to be held on the weekend of October 22 and 23.

Wrought Iron on Casa Tosquella windows
Frogs on the ceiling

Casa Tosquella is the result of a refurbishment Antoni Tosquella, who had made his fortune in America, commissioned Balcells, who transformed a small summer house by master builder Joan Caballé. It also includes a semi-underground floor that some time ago had become an independent dwelling that is now closed and an annex devoid of architectural interest where Tosquella's daughter lived. It is listed as a cultural property of national interest (BCIN) as a result of being declared a historical monument in 1974. Barcelona City Council will turn it into a day centre for the elderly

Casa Tosquella
Casa Tosquella

"Eduard Maria Balcells did all the beautification work to give it prestige and visibility, and also to put it on the same level as other modernist buildings," says architect and head of programming for 48H Open House Barcelona, Miquel Zuzama. Another detail that Zuzama draws attention to is the difference between the facade and the interior: while the exterior decoration is neoarabic, Antoni Tosquella wanted the interior to be more floral and typically modernist. "The house is in very good condition and the decoration has been preserved; it will be relatively easy to recover it," explains Zuzama. On the other hand, another element, the ceramic mosaic pavement, gives a clue as to how the rooms were organised: the drawing of the living room floor is more elaborate, because it must have been more public, while that of the other three nearby rooms is simpler because they must have been more private.