It has been confirmed that the museum opening date for the Casa Vicens in Barcelona has been rescheduled for the second half of 2017. Originally scheduled for the second half of 2016, the reopening of Gaudi's first house was not able to be completed due to the complicated and labor intensive renovations. This will be the first time the house, declared World Heritage site, will be open to the public without it being a residential or private space.
The Casa Vicens, located on 24 Carolines Street, was the first house ever designed by Antoni Gaudí. In 1883 Manel Vicens, promoter of the project, commissioned the architect to build what would be his summer home. At that time Gràcia, now a cosmopolitan neighborhood, was a separate town. Therefore, the project did not contemplate the possibility of other buildings being built around it, and so to this day, it remains a completely freestanding building in a neighborhood characterized by its compact character, narrow streets, and high density of population.
The project is a key work for understanding Gaudi’s architecture and the development of modernism in Barcelona. Although the structure was enlarged in a respectful and successful manner by the architect Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez in 1925, the museum project has tried to preserve the essence of Gaudí, eschewing modern inventions or styles. In the words of Joan Abellà, director of the museum and former manager of MACBA, to the ABC Newspaper:
It is now a living work and we have made every effort to bring back the essence of Gaudí. There are no photos of how the house was furnished in 1885 and therefore it has been decided that it will not be furnished.
The architects of the project, José Antonio Martínez Lapeña, Elías Torres and David García, similarly advocate the essence and originality of the work. For precisely that reason they emphasize that the main objective of the project always was "showcase the original work."
The museum will try to maintain a sustainable level of tourism, developing a tourist impact plan that includes the possibility that the street at the entrance becomes partly, for pedestrians only. It would be ideal if 20% of visitors would be made up of locals, a challenge considering that the average number of local visitors to the museums in Barcelona is approximately 10%. It is estimated that 150,000 people will visit the museum each year, in small groups and preferably with online reservations to avoid queues that would hinder the normal operation of the neighborhood. With the price of admission, between €12 and €22, visitors will have access to the permanent exhibition, subdivided into three thematic blocks: the history of the estate, Casa Vicens as the essential manifesto of the work of Gaudí, and the social, cultural, and artistic context of the house.