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 (iconi­c­

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