Seleccionar página

Iconic Houses: La Ricarda (Casa Gomis)

The Spanish Government’s planned expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport has forced the public to choose between economic progress, industrialization (together with an investment of 1700 million euro) and the creation of jobs (around 80 000) or, by contrast, maintaining the natural heritage and architectural history of the buildings located there.

A unique natural space

Very close to one of the shorter runways of the airport is the lagoon of La Ricarda, which, together with another smaller one, La Magarola, is part of a natural area of great ecological interest, protected by the European Union under its Natura 2000 network program. Both are located on the Llobregat Delta, «squeezed» between the airport, the Zona Franca industrial, the logistics area and the port of Barcelona. On the wetlands and lagoons of this delta, you can see up to 43 species of protected birds, including flamingos that come from Africa to spend the summer, plants (over 23 different types of orchids), fish, small reptiles and insects. La Ricarda and La Magarola are essential to prevent the salinification of the Llobregat river mouth, which would make it impossible for all these animal species to live in the area.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

A project with history

Within this 350-hectare natural space, there is a private estate that has belonged to the Gomis-Bertrand family for more than a century and is of enormous architectural and aesthetic value. In 1895, the great-grandfather, Manuel Bertrand, acquired the land on the seafront, which belonged to the municipality of El Prat de Llobregat. However, it wasn’t until half a century later that one of his descendants, his granddaughter Inés Bertrand and her husband, Ricardo Gomis, had a house built there for them and their six children. It was built in collaboration with the architect Antonio Bonet Castellana, who emigrated to Argentina at the end of the 1930s following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and with whom the couple maintained a decade-long, fruitful epistolary relationship, in addition to seeing him on his sporadic visits to Barcelona.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

La Ricarda

Casa Gomis, also known as La Ricarda in honor of the nearby lagoon, is a magnificent example of Catalan rationalist architecture. It is just over a hundred meters from the shoreline, on the beach of El Prat de Llobregat, and occupies 900 square meters.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

The house consists of a dozen pavilions joined asymmetrically on a single floor, composed of connected modules and built with metal pillars that support the vaults. The pavilions are arranged horizontally and comprise the interior spaces —living rooms, dining room, numerous bedrooms, etc.— that are intertwined with terraces, porches, inner courtyards, and a large swimming pool, all of which is surrounded by a thick pine forest planted by Inés’s grandfather, Manuel Bertrand, to stabilize the sand dunes of the wetlands.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

The ceiling vaults resemble the undulations of the sea waves, similar to the undulations produced by the surrounding pine trees. They are covered with stoneware, and some of the walls are overlaid with La Bisbal glazed ceramics, typical of the Empordà region and Catalonia.

© Adrià Goula

The different pavilions are connected by wide glass indoor and outdoor corridors. The children’s bedrooms have their own pavilion, and uniquely, this has its own garden where they can play and rest.

© Adrià Goula

Both the children’s area and the pavilion that houses the main bedroom and guest bedrooms are joined by a common space: the large living room, where daily life and family gatherings take place.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

Ricardo Gomis and Inés Bertrand founded «Club 49», a group of artists and musicians who performed concerts, plays, poetry recitals, etc. Among the members were Antoni Tàpies, Joan Miró and his wife, Pilar Juncosa, Joan Prats, the poet Joan Brossa and the publisher Gustavo Gili.

Antonio Bonet’s contribution

The interior design is worth mentioning and includes Antonio Bonet’s furniture designs, like his famous butterfly chair – the BKF – that can be seen in many rooms of the house, as well as numerous other pieces of furniture, most of which were custom made such as the bookcases.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

Bonet went on to leave other excellent examples of his talent and mastery in Spain, designing, among others, the building on Carrera de San Jerónimo, 13 (for what was originally the Bank of Madrid in 1959), the greyhound track, or the Canòdrom Meridiana (1962-1963) in Barcelona, along with Josep Puig I Torné.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

The big question

So, here is the dilemma: should progress and industrialization, with the extension of the runways of the main airport in Catalonia, be prioritized at the cost of destroying cultural heritage, a building of obvious architectural value and a unique natural area?

The controversy is served.

Related content