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Iconic Houses: La Ricarda (Casa Gomis)

With the planned expansion of Barcelona’s El Prat airport decided by the Spanish Government, society is faced with the dilemma of choosing between economic progress, industrialization (together with an investment of 1,700 million euros) and the creation of jobs (around 80,000) or, on the contrary, 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 lake of La Ricarda, a lagoon that, together with another smaller one, La Magarola, is part of a natural area of great ecological interest protected by the European Union in its Natura 2000 Network program. Both are located in the Llobregat River delta, «squeezed» between the airport, the Zona Franca and the port of Barcelona. In the marshes and lagoon of this delta you can see up to 43 species of protected birds, including flamingos that have come from Africa to spend the summer, plants (there are up to 23 different types of orchids), fish, small reptiles and insects. La Ricarda and La Magarola are essential to prevent the salinization of the river at its mouth, otherwise all these animal species would not be able to live in the area.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

A project with history

And it is there, in the interior of this natural space of 350 hectares, where there is a private estate belonging to the Gomis Bertrand family for more than a century with a very high architectural and aesthetic value. In 1895, the great-grandfather, Manuel Bertrand, acquired this land facing the sea, belonging to the municipality of El Prat de Llobregat, but it was half a century later when one of his descendants, his granddaughter Inés Bertrand, together with her husband, Ricardo Gomis, had a house built 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 after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and with whom they maintained a long and fruitful epistolary relationship for a decade, in addition to their sporadic visits to Barcelona.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

There, in Buenos Aires, Bonet founded the Austral Group, a group of Argentine architects with whom he exerted an important influence on architecture and design in Latin America from the nineteen-forties., not only with his projected buildings but also with his many publications, such as books on art, photography, architecture…

From Rio de la Plata, as the architect Antonio Bonet Castellana jumped from Buenos Aires to Punta del Este with unusual periodicity, in 1949 he began an interesting dialogue by correspondence with Ricardo Gomis and Inés Bertrand, that would end up defining the projection of the so-called Casa Gomis in 1953 and the beginning of its construction four years later -when the city council granted the building permit-, until its completion a decade later, in 1963, with the help of, among others, the Barcelona architects Emilio Bofill Benessat -father of the also architect Ricardo Bofill- and José Comas.

La Ricarda

Casa Gomis, also known as La Ricarda, in honour of the nearby lagoon, and just over a hundred meters from the seashore, on the beach of El Prat de Llobregat, with its 900 square meters, is a magnificent example of Catalan Rationalist construction.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

It consists of a dozen pavilions that are joined asymmetrically on a single floor, composed of connected modules and built with metal pillars that support the vaults. They are arranged horizontally and inside you can find the interior spaces such as living rooms, dining room, numerous bedrooms, intertwined with terraces, porches, inner courtyards, and a large swimming pool, all surrounded by a lush pine forest planted by .Inés’s grandfather, Manuel Bertrand, to fix the sand dunes of the marsh.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

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

© Adrià Goula

The different pavilions are connected to each other through wide glass corridors, some of them even outside. The children’s dormitories occupy their own pavilion, and the most unusual thing is that they have their own garden, which becomes a place to play and rest.

© Adrià Goula

Both the children’s area and the pavilion that occupies the main bedroom and those of the guests are joined by a common link: the large living room, where the daily life.and family gatherings and get-togethers take place.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

Ricardo Gomis and Inés Bertrand founded the «Club 49», a group of artists and musicians with whom they held concerts, theatrical performances, poetry recitals… and among them 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

It is worth mentioning the interior decoration, in which Antonio Bonet even shows us his furniture designs, such as the famous «Butterfly» armchair («BKF»), which can be seen in many rooms of the house, or numerous pieces of furniture, most of which are made to measure, such as the bookcases.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

Subsequently, Bonet left other good examples of his talent and mastery in Spain when he designed, among other buildings, the old Bank of Madrid in Carrera de San Jerónimo 13 in 1959, or the Canódromo Meridiana (1962-1963), together with Josep Puig i Torné.

© Via Elle Decor – Molteni

The big question

So, this is the dilemma: should progress and industrialisation be prioritised by extending the runways of the main airport of Barcelona and the whole of Catalonia at the cost of destroying the cultural heritage, a building of obvious architectural value and a unique natural area?

The controversy is served.

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