On the outskirts of Barcelona sits a home that’s revolutionary in both design and spirit
Exploring Casa Gomis by Antonio Bonet Castellana – an iconic home on the outskirts of Barcelona that’s revolutionary in both design and spirit
Casa Gomis, nestled in the beautiful pine forest of the La Ricarda estate in north-eastern Spain, is a wonderful example of a close collaboration between an architect and client – in this case, a remarkable relationship spanning more than a decade.
As a young architect in training, Antonio Bonet Castellana fled civil war-stricken Spain and headed to Paris, where he began to study under Modernist master Le Corbusier. Here, he absorbed new ideas about the future of the home and met fellow architects Jorge Ferrari Hardoy and Juan Kurchan, with whom he moved to Buenos Aires and founded architectural practice Grupo Austral. The trio soon became world renowned, in particular for the design of the folding ‘BKF’ chair, commonly known as the butterfly chair (right) – the lucrative US production rights to which were sold to furniture manufacturer Knoll.
On a visit to his hometown of Barcelona, Bonet Castellana met engineer Ricardo Gomis and his wife Inés Bertrand, who were both part of a cultural resistance movement against Franco’s harsh dictatorship. Club 49, as it was called, included intellects such as Spanish artist Joan Miró, American composer John Cage and Spanish poet Joan Brossa. After this chance meeting, from 1949 onwards, Gomis and Bonet Castellana began planning the creation of a totally unique family home that would also become a haven for intellectuals of the resistance. Bonet Castellana returned to live in Argentina but slowly, through years of correspondence, the house was finally completed in 1963.
With a nod to the waves of the Mediterranean Sea, the design consists of a series of vaulted concrete roofs that are all linked and covered in terracotta tiles. Open and spacious, the house welcomes nature – vast glass panels and doors allow cool air to circulate on hot summer days and two large skylights let sunlight flood in. The majestically arching roof continues outwards, doubling as patio shelters. Handmade earthy orange and marble floor tiles run throughout the interior, with a mix of mid-century furniture pieces dotted around, including, of course, many butterfly chairs.
Today, the abode – which is still privately owned by the Gomis family – is threatened by harmful pollution and general expansion caused by the new third runway at Barcelona’s El Prat airport, just 400 metres from the house. In 2014, architectural organisation Iconic Houses, which champions the world’s most significant homes, announced the residence as an ‘Icon at Risk’ to draw attention to the matter. We hope they suceed in preserving Casa Gomis for many years to come (iconichouses.org).