An iconic spot on Barcelona’s modernist route, Casa Fuster marks the very upper limit of Passeig de Gràcia, where the avenue becomes narrower and changes its name as it leaves Eixample to enter a different district, Vila de Gràcia.
Casa Fuster is considered to be one of the most expensive built in Barcelona at the time, especially because the high quality of the finishes. It is also the first house in Barcelona with facades in white marble, instead of the widely used Montjuic stone.
The building was a gift from the wealthy bourgeois Mariano Fuster i Fuster to his wife Consuelo Fabra i Puig. The posterior facade on Carrer Jesús features a relief bearing the initials C.F., reminding us of the original owner of the property, Consuelo Fabra.
Domènech i Montaner, who in parallel was building the Palau de la Música Catalana, sculpted 300 modernist capitals in the building, all of them different. The ground floor, which would later become the Café Vienés, was designed as an event room where the family received their guests.
Casa Fuster is Domènech i Montaner’s last building in Barcelona (1908 – 1911). Achitect Lluís Domènech i Montaner (1850 – 1923) is one of the most important protagonists of Catalan Modernism, and several of his works have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites. He studied architecture and mathematical physics and graduated in 1873. He later joined the School of Architecture as a lecturer, then as professor, and then became its director in 1900, training, among others, students such as Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Antoni Gaudí or Josep M. Jujol, and overall exercising a considerable influence on what was to become Modernisme in Catalonia.
Casa Fuster has an interesting story. Due to the elevated maintenance costs, Fuster family left the home in the early 1920s. In 1962, an electrical company bought the building with plans to demolish it to construct a skyscraper, but due to public uproar, this was never carried out. In 2000, the building was acquired by a hotel chain and since 2004 has been known as Hotel Casa Fuster.
As composition, Casa Fuster’s design is an elegant combination of curves and straight lines, where two flat facades meet a cylindrical turret on the corner with glass galleries and delicate sculptures.
The entire house is a mix of neo-Gothic and Modernista style. Domènech i Montaner left his imprint on the building, using some of his most signature features such as pink marble columns, trilobate windows and plenty of floral motifs. The French-style top floor, and the elegant street floor, make the building a perfect example of the Modernista style.
More on Domènech i Montaner
Domènech i Montaner also stood out as a designer of typefaces and book bindings, and as a book illustrator. He also collaborated with the main Catalan publications of the time such as La Renaixença, La Veu de Catalunya, and founded the magazine El Poble Català. He published many books and articles, and through the family business, the editorial Montaner i Simon, he initiated and directed the art encyclopedia Historia General del Arte, later continued by Josep Puig i Cadafalch.
Domènech i Montaner was one of the founders of political Catalan nationalism and founder of the Regionalist League, which soon became the main political force in Catalonia. He focused in the world of politics in 1870, and committed to his belief in Catalan nationalism, he also founded the Catalanist Union in 1891. He chaired the assembly that drafted the Bases de Manresa, the document that served as the basis for the self-government of Catalonia. He became a member of the Spanish Parliament in 1901. Because of disagreements with political leader Francesc Cambó, he split from the party in 1904 and distanced himself from politics to focus on research and history.