Portal i Tanca Finca Miralles
YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION
1901 - 1902
Passeig de Manuel Girona, 55 - 57, Barcelona
The entrance gateway and wall of the Miralles Estate is a minor work in Gaudí’s architectural oeuvre but one of unquestionable interest. A large part of its component elements have come down to us, showing the high level of stylistic and architectural solutions which he applied to every project he undertook.
This commission was from the industrialist Ermenegild Miralles, a close friend of Gaudí’s great patron, Eusebi Güell. The overall project consisted in the building of a private residence on the recently purchased property in Sarrià. The house was finally built by the architect Domènec Sugrañes and Gaudí limited himself to the design of the main entrance gateway and of the perimeter wall.
AN UNDULATING WALL
The feature of the whole that most catches the eye is the undulating profile of the part of the wall that is still extant. The wall is made of mortared stone, adorned with white trencadís mosaic, and on it there is a chain-link grille reminiscent of a fishing net, topped by spikes. This grille accentuates the serpentine silhouette of the perimeter wall, giving it a very dynamic appearance.
The wall flows over the gateway, where there is a sinuous lobed arch containing the carriage gate with a pedestrian gate beside it, both being marked by their original curved shapes. Likewise, both of the gates are sheltered, on each side, by two large canopies with a complex construction, consisting in a metal framework of crosspieces supporting fiber cement tiles in a pattern reminiscent of a turtle shell. These large tiles, which act as a sun shield, were specially designed by Gaudí for this gateway.
Like all good pioneers, Gaudí had fun experimenting and he found an ideal test bench in the machinery of the workshop of the company owned by Miralles. For example, he used the presses of the factory to calculate the strength of materials for various projects, such as the Milà House. Gaudí would collaborate with the industrialist on other projects like the smoking room of the Vicens House or the decoration of the Bar Torino (on the corner of Gran Via and Passeig de Gràcia), all of which had lower budgets than those which the architect was used to dealing with by that time. In spite of all this, however, Gaudí crowned the Miralles gateway project with two excellent examples of his skill with wrought iron: the grille of the pedestrian entrance and the signature three-dimensional four-armed cross above the gate. The one that can be seen here today is a replica because the original is kept in the Gaudí House-Museum at Park Güell.
Formally, the language of this project echoes some of the architect’s lesser-known works such as the Gate of the Birds in Comillas, the Gate of the Graner House in Barcelona, or the no longer extant gate of the Mateu Estate (known as La Miranda) in Llinars del Vallès.
CHANGES AND RESTORATION
When one looks at archival photographs, it is hard to understand how, years later, Gaudí’s assistant Sugrañes placed a conventional double half-height gate with two supporting pillars and two side grilles in the main gate opening. The fact is that Gaudí had already made a splendid side door with a lobed profile for pedestrians, built of industrial metal bands. It may be supposed, once again, that Miralles was not up to major expenses. Who pays the piper calls the tune!
In the year 2000, the gateway was restored and, taking advantage of the occasion, a life-sized full-body statue of the architect called To Antoni Gaudí by the sculptor Joaquim Camps was inaugurated. The perimeter wall and the gateway now form the entrance to some buildings which were erected in the late 1960s, popularly known as Les Cotxeres (tram shed) since they stand on the site where the city’s trams were once parked.
At all hours (public outdoor location along the street)
HOW TO GET THERE
Metro: L3 - Maria Cristina
Bus: 6, 34, 66, 130, V3, V7
Bus Turístic: Blue Route. Palau Reial - Pavellons Güell
Barcelona City Tour: West Route (Stop Pius XII)