Following the GATCPAC’s precepts, Rodríguez Arias proposes the construction of homes with good surface and comfort standards at very low costs, thanks to the construction procedures used. The structure is mixed, of brick and upright iron feet, to favour the wide spaces and not subject the layout to the bearing system. The roofs are made of clapboards. The floors are made of hydraulic mosaic, and the doors and windows adopt the models standardised by the GATCPAC itself. The building has central heating, and all the equipment in the kitchens and bathrooms adopts the most innovative technology of the moment.
This building is located between party walls on a plot with a rhomboid floor plan and several floors have two apartments per landing. The best oriented façade is the one that faces the interior space of the block. Rodríguez Arias solves this problem by placing the main bedrooms on the façade facing the street and saving the good orientation for the living and dining room, which can easily be converted into a single space by means of folding screens. The result is that the interior façade is much more glazed than the street façade, which has large horizontal windows. The façade that faces the street is like a canvas of pink stucco, perfectly flat and outlined by the windows. Slight movements strategically provoked on some of the balconies and windows of this façade generate small asymmetries that create a soft, very balanced dynamism. The ground floor has been modified to incorporate shops. The structure is mixed, made of metal and brick, the most common and economical of those used in Barcelona at the time. The doors and windows have been standardised according to the GATEPAC models and measurements. On the façade facing the street, the carpentry is metallic, while on the interior façade there are horizontal wooden sliding doors, GATEPAC type. The service elevator stops at the upper terrace where the storage rooms of all the homes are located.
Residential building located at 61 Via Augusta in Barcelona, designed and built by German Rodríguez Arias in 1931.
This residential building is configured as a construction between partitions, on a regular plot with an almost rectangular plan with eight levels: the ground floor intended for commercial uses and seven residential floors.
The ground floor is open to the street through large rectangular windows that welcome the shop windows of the commercial premises, currently (2012) empty and recently refurbished.
The next five floors show a rationalist configuration in the façade, following the constructive and compositional parameters of the GATCPAC, an architectural movement to which the architect German Rodríguez Arias belonged.
The building has been designed with two homes per floor that are clearly differentiated on the façade facing Via Augusta. Each of the homes has a central glass balcony and two rectangular windows that flank it. It is worth noting the difference in width in the overhang of the balconies (some are squarer and others more rectangular) which give the façade a certain asymmetry, also present in other works of the GATCPAC group.
One of the most remarkable features of the façade is precisely the relationship that the architect establishes between the wall and its openings, with windows without moldings and without any decoration. This sobriety of the wall is only broken by the upper body, with two levels of galleries. These galleries or terraces, also very common in GATCPAC architecture (as in Bloc House, for example), were understood as a connection with nature and are presented as an open area with a metal railing. The wall of these galleries stands out, all configured in angles - like a saw – where small windows open.
For its construction, metal and brick elements have been used, creating a mixed structure that on the Via Augusta façade is covered with a pink and flat stucco coating, recently restored due to the poor state of conservation that it presented.
Doors and windows have been standardised according to GATCPAC models and sizes. On the façade that faces the street, the carpentry is metal, while on the interior façade (facing the block’s patio) they are wooden horizontal slides.
In the hall you will find the residents' staircase and the lift that give access to the upper floors, up to the terrace, where the storage rooms of each house are located.
The best oriented façade is the one open to the block’s patio, a fact that conditioned the architectural project of Rodríguez Arias. For this reason, the living room and the dining room are located on this side of the building, easily convertible into a single space through folding screens and large horizontal windows that allow ventilation and lighting of the space. On the contrary, it arranges the bedrooms on the side of the street.
The building was designed in 1931 by Germán Rodríguez Arias (Barcelona 1902-1987), architect and founding partner of GATCPAC, and one of the floors was the architect's residence and studio.
Rodríguez Arias was the introducer and father of Catalan rationalism, and he designed this building on the lot that the family owned in Via Augusta, and where, in fact, his residence was located (on the fourth floor, front door). Many of the original elements and rationalist furniture have been preserved in this home. Also a designer and interior designer, he designed the interior elements following the concepts of economy, efficiency, function and beauty, coined by the master of modern architecture: Le Corbusier.
The residential building on Via Augusta is a fundamental work of architectural rationalism and presents a great similarity with the Astoria building - cinema and housing complex - located at 193-199 París Street in Barcelona, also by Germán Rodríguez Arias.
Originally, the ground floor was occupied by the lobby of the estate and the garage; then it was modified and partially occupied by the Manbar furniture store. The current elevator has nothing to do with the original, made of glass on all four sides, completely transparent and very innovative at the time.
The building is currently quite modified from the original project, and has undergone numerous and unfortunate transformations, the most controversial being the restorations of the façade in 1987 and most recently in 2010.
The restoration of the 1980s was carried out by the Barcelona City Council, which paid the cost of the intervention in exchange for the donation of two Alexander Calder mobiles by the architect's family. Germán Rodríguez Arias and Alexander Calder had a great friendship, to the point that the American artist stayed in the architect's house on Via Augusta several times and gave him both works. But, in this sense, the restoration focused solely on repainting the façade with a soft colour, since the cladding was badly damaged. Only a few years later it returned to the state in which it was before the restoration, which led to the last restoration that completely modified the appearance of the façade by placing a stone plywood on the ground floor and painting (when the original was lighter) the rest of the levels dark pink.