Photographing Heritage. The Vicens House


The Casa Vicens is the first project built by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005.

This small summer cottage in the village of Gràcia was commissioned in 1883 by the wealthy broker Manuel Vicens to the then young architect Antoni Gaudí. The house is currently located and open to the public on 20, Carolines Street, in Barcelona.

Casa Vicens gathers in a cozy space all the features of Gaudí's own style, announcing the keys of his unique architectural language and the beginning of the Modernism, the Catalan current of European Art Nouveau. In the case of this single family house, influences of Oriental and Islamic architecture are particularly evident, both in the structural shapes and in the ornamentation as well as a really personal use of color that will be developed in later works such as the Gaudí Crypt near Barcelona and El Capricho in Comillas.

The photographs that you can see on this post have been created as an assignment from Casa Vicens’ owners to provide a different look at the building’s communication in images. The impulse that has moved both the managers of Casa Vicens and myself as the author of these photographs to complete our briefing has mainly been color, the clear intent of giving the building a prominent presence within the chromatic range of its closest urban environment as a way to attract new curious spectators.

Color has always been an important part of the photographic language and is an expressive resource of extraordinary power. Used intentionally in very simple scales of primary and complementary colors combined with diffuse illuminations build very graphic frames that help the viewer to wonder about what he is looking at.

The difficulty is, as in the case of a remarkable building as the Casa Vicens –or as in photographing any other work of Antoni Gaudí, of course–, finding a subtle balance between what the viewers are looking at and what you as the photographer really want them to see.

That's why I always try to solve a matter like this by playing with the camera in the very same way: for me it's all about showing the viewer an elegant color attached to a clean shape framed as harmoniously as possible to just wink at him, as if I were greeting him. If just because of a pure simple enticing curiosity the viewer stops to look at the picture, then I know for sure that somehow we will start a conversation.

At the end of the day, that is my intent, that through these photographs we can walk hand in hand to visit the Casa Vicens. Color is my greeting to you, an invitation to pass the threshold of the house and to contemplate its architectural wonders.

Visiting the works by Antoni Gaudí is always a fantastic occasion to travel: you can see many more of my photographs of the Casa Batlló, the Gaudí Crypt, the Capricho and the Palau Güell in this post.

David Cardelús