One of the last Modernist buildings constructed in Barcelona, Casa Sayrach is locally known as Casa de la nata, or the house of cream, because of the colour of the stone and the shape of the mansard roof.
An outstanding example of late Modernism in Barcelona, this house was built in 1918 and is the work of Manuel Sayrach i Carreras, even though the plans were signed by the promoter of the house, Gabriel Borrell, as the young architect had not yet finished his degree when he designed it.
Casa Sayrach stands at the intersection of Avinguda Diagonal with Carrer d’Enric Granados, and the corner of these streets is marked by and architectural accent of the house, in the shape of a semicircular volume of bay windows, topped with a rounded turret.
The facade is finished in Montjuic stone while the mansard – in white, Vilanova stone, and white stucco. The entrance is emphasized by a bay window supported by a parabolic arch standing on two pillows that flank the entrance. Even if the house is a private space and cannot be visited, except for you making a reservation at La Dama Restaurant (they have a separate entrance, the left door on the upper photo), some design elements of the hallways can still be seen through the main door’s glass.
Architect Manuel Sayrach embraced the idea of a ‘total art’ as issued by Richard Wanger: the various manifestations of art can combine to create a unique work – idea which was one of the pillars of Catalan Modernism as fruit of the Romantic spirit.(1) From all the manifestations of this current that marked the beginning of the 20th century, Sayrach took what best suited his style. Consequently the lines of the building are all soft and sinuous, and all the architectural shapes, especially those of the interior, refer to nature: stalactites, tentacles, leaves or marine creatures.
Manuel Sayrach i Carreras (1886-1937) was the son of a surgeon and from a very young age was a collaborator of La Publicitat i La Veu de Catalunya. Although he was never a leader of any party, he was always a supporter of republicanism. His first architectural work was the restoration of his family property in Sant Feliu, unfortunately destroyed. In 1915 he finished the Casa Sayrach project and in 1924 he built, with a smaller budget, the neighbouring Casa Montserrat. He worked clearly influenced by Modernism (2) in general and Gaudí in particular, at a time when the Noucentisme (3) style was being imposed, and maybe that’s why his work was lesser known. In addition, some of its buildings were destroyed during the war and other projects, such as the monument to Pi i Margall, were never built.
1. Núria Gil Faré signs the ‘Casa Sayrach’ text in the “Manuel Sayrach: arquitectura i modernisme a Barcelona” book, published by Ajuntament de Barcelona (you can find a review of the book on El Nacional.cat, in Spanish)
2. What is Catalan Modernism? A short intro on Culture Trip.
3. Noucentisme was the artistic movement reacting against Modernism. For more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noucentisme