Happy ending for Casa Tosquella: Barcelona City Council buys it for €1.15m

Modernist treasure presented "deficiencies in state of conservation"

2 min
Tosquella House

BarcelonaThe story of Casa Tosquella has ended well: two weeks after ARA advanced information about the negotiations, Barcelona City Council bought the building for €1.15m, which are part of the fund agreed with ERC in the 2021 budget for the acquisition or rehabilitation of unique buildings considered to be of interest for the city. The acquisition closes a long series of both public and private attempts and will restore the house to its splendour.

Casa Tosquella, on Vallirana Street, is one of the most emblematic works of the architect Eduard Maria Balcells, and has the added value that it has resisted for decades in an urban environment marked by the traffic of the General Mitre ring road and some blocks of flats. It is listed as a Cultural Asset of National Interest, as a result of being declared a historical monument in 1974, and the Generalitat had begun procedures for the owners to resolve "the deficiencies in the state of conservation," as sources from the Department of Culture stated to ARA.

The house has an area of 866.96 m², 224 m² of which are occupied by the building, with the rest being a garden. According to the City Council, the purchase responds to "the will and the need of the district to provide the neighbourhood of Putxet i Farró with a new public equipment and correct the historical deficit in facilities, especially for the elderly".

Casa Tosquella is the result of the reform of a summer house by master builder Joan Caballé from 1889, commissioned in 1906 by Antoni Tosquella, who had made a fortune in America. As the director of the Museu d'Art de Cerdanyola (MAC), Txema Romero, says in the doctoral thesis he wrote on this architect, "it is the most emblematic project of Balcells's first period". The works took place in parallel to those of such iconic modernist works as the Palau de la Música Catalana, Casa Batlló, La Pedrera and Parc Güell. The renovation consisted of the renovation of the facades with horseshoe arches and the construction of the two towers with glazed ceramic roofs, as well as refurbishing the interior. As is characteristic of modernist architecture, every last detail has been designed. And despite the current poor state of conservation, you can still sense the decorative richness of an exceptional work in which there are plant and animal forms such as frogs, tadpoles, cats and dogs.

Attempts to buy it by the institutions

The Generalitat tried to buy the house almost twenty years ago, between 2003 and 2004. Later, the Barcelona City Council did the same in 2012, when Xavier Trias was mayor. However, they did not reach an economic agreement with the owners. The City Council then had the opportunity to buy 80% of the house for under €100,000 through the right of first refusal, because the property was divided between four people, but they discarded the operation because they did not want to buy a property of which they would not have had 100%. According to an article by David Cobo published in Tot Barcelona last December, there was a private buyer who was making arrangements to buy it and another interested party, but the outbreak of the pandemic altered the timing of the operation.