El Capricho by Antonio Gaudí
November 7, 2018 7:37 PM   Subscribe

David Cardelús, architectural photographer, presents this 1885 summer house. El Capricho is a small and beautiful hidden gem surrounded by a very unusual landscape, one of Gaudí’s few buildings outside Catalonia and that, like all the works of the architect, displays a great richness of detail and symbolism. Surely one of the most surprising elements of is the constant presence of ceramic tiles with sunflowers, a plant impossible to find in the rainy region of Cantabria (near Comillas, northern Spain).
posted by MovableBookLady (14 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Ooh, I visited this place last year; it is remarkable and the interiors do not let the outside down. I do remember that some of the staircases were designed for people smaller than me, though.
posted by Segundus at 8:27 PM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

I hate to sound like a philistine, but this looks like it was made out of Legos. I mean, if you told me it was a screencap from Minecraft, I'd have believed you. I don't find that at all restful for the eye.

Some of the up-close details are nice, though.
posted by praemunire at 8:37 PM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

I hate to sound like a philistine, but this looks like it was made out of Legos

Which is funny, because another of Gaudí's buildings outside Catalonia is the episcopal palace in Astorga and if you were a kid in Spain in the 80s you probably had a box of Exín Castillos.
posted by sukeban at 10:12 PM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

A former client of mine was part of Spanish high society and was married into the López family. She explained to me how the Güell and the López families had intermarried in a classic union of old money and new money, and become major patrons of the Modernisme movement (the subject came up because I’d mentioned Parc Güell and she’d airily said “oh, my husband’s family owns that”).

Anyhow, she explained that Comillas was the other, much quieter place in Spain to see buildings by Matorell and Gaudí, because the first López shipping magnate originates from that particular fishing village (it was conveniently located for the transatlantic slave trade). He commissioned various houses and public buildings, and then his mates came to visit, liked the place and commissioned some more.

As well as El Capricho, there are the original Pontifical University buildings, the Palacio de Sobrellano, the Pantheon Chapel and lots of grand villas.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:17 PM on November 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

Surely one of the most surprising elements of is the constant presence of ceramic tiles with sunflowers, a plant impossible to find in the rainy region of Cantabria

Haha, whaaaaat, it's not that rainy!
posted by lollymccatburglar at 10:59 PM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, now that I've looked at the pictures, 1) why are there no interior shots?? I need to see the inside of this house, 2) one thing I love about Mediterranean cultures is how well they do tiles, 3) the house is nice but I'm drooling over that greenhouse (of which there were no interior shots either) and 4) you can definitely grow sunflowers in Cantabria, that's such a weird thing to say!
posted by lollymccatburglar at 11:07 PM on November 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Speaking as someone who used to find Gaudi kind of, well, gaudy, I was amazed at how much I appreciated his work after visiting Barcelona for the first time.

Yes, much of his architecture is ornate, boldly colorful and even primitive or crafty, but there are so many rich ideas across his work that I was simply won over by the creativity and fearlessness of it all.

I especially loved his use of biological forms like the forest canopy interior of the Sagrada Familia or the doors to La Pedrera that were inspired by butterfly wings.

A lot of those designs still feels futuristic to me, and seeing those interspersed with his rougher hewn designs made me question the source of my feelings about them. And from that I learned more about the history and inspiration for the designs and Gaudi's design process as a whole, which was just awesome. And the way Barcelona not only embraced him as an artist but gave him almost free reign over the city is just awe-inspiring at a societal level.
posted by lubujackson at 11:28 PM on November 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

Came here to say that it looks like it was made in Minecraft, but I see it's already been said… so I guess I'll say it again? Anyway, maybe it's just the photos and it looks better in real life, but this thing actually hurts to look at.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:31 AM on November 8, 2018

for the time of construction, the building’s style was extremely extravagant

Mad King Ludwig might beg to differ, but I would say its style was extravagant for any time. I think it's wonderful, though!
posted by TedW at 5:45 AM on November 8, 2018

Somehow when architecture schools cover Gaudí they skip this one. It’s a shame. Its use of color, the muquarna- style corners - it’s a unique treasure.

If this project is your jam I suggest as a contemporary partner A House For Essex by FAT.
posted by q*ben at 6:31 AM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

I didn't find a site for the interior, but google search turns up a lot.

posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 7:12 AM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I like how simple and clean the interior is compared to the outside. It's a great combo of exciting (the house in the outdoors) and soothing within.
posted by tavella at 8:26 AM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

That's not gaudy! That's Gaudí! But really I have never seen this building and it made my eyes so happy. I am used to his other organic forms that can seem ominous. But this is delight filled. I learned a new word but have forgotten it already; oh yes mudejar.
posted by Oyéah at 3:13 PM on November 8, 2018

(Mudéjar is kind of different but it also uses a lacework of brick and tiles: see here the apse of the cathedral of La Seo in Zaragoza or this Torre de San Martín in Teruel or this church tower in Utebo. The difference with structures like La Giralda is that the Giralda began as a minaret in the Moroccan style for a mosque that was destroyed and replaced by a cathedral, while mudéjar is art made by Muslim artists and architects in Christian territories. Later in the 19th and early 20th centuries there was a somewhat orientalist neo-mudéjar movement which was what Gaudí was alluding to)
posted by sukeban at 9:47 AM on November 9, 2018

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