On January 28, the master's students visited the Casa Batlló in Barcelona, and the privilege of knowing their management first hand, thanks to the presentation of Amilcar Vargas, Responsible of World Heritage at Casa Batlló.
Amilcar Vargas, as responsible for the implementation of the UNESCO to the World Heritage Convention in Casa Batlló, provided students with an insight into the functioning of UNESCO, its internal organization, and the problems it faces today.
He explained about the management of Casa Batlló, one of the most notorious examples of the management of private cultural heritage in Catalonia. A. Vargas, also described the process from its first opening in 2002 to its consolidation in 2005 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and its international recognition. After 15 years of declaration, Casa Batlló is one of the most visited tourist and cultural attractions in the city, which receives about 1 million visitors a year.
Why World Heritage?
Since 2005, UNESCO has established ten criteria by which a heritage asset could be designated a World Heritage Site. Qualified cultural or natural heritage assets as such must have the "Outstanding Universal Value", that is, of extraordinary and transcendental importance at the national level and for present and future generations of humanity. So this is of significant importance to the international community.
A bit of its history: "nº43 Paseo de Gracia, the street of the discord."
By the mid-19th century, Barcelona had grown demographically, needed to grow, but was still embraced by the old medieval city wall. The health and social situation of the population greatly needed a city-planning reform of the city. This is how the Pla Cerdà was approved in 1860, a new hipodámico urbanistic plan, in which the Passeig de Gracia became its main axis.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Passeig de Gracia became the residential area of the Catalan bourgeoisie in Barcelona.
The Batlló house was acquired by the family in 1903, by Mr. Batlló, owner of an important textile business and several factories in Barcelona. He purchased the building, built-in 1877 by Emilio Sala Cortés (one of Antoni Gaudí's professors of architecture). And it is that, at the beginning of the twentieth century, just as bourgeois families settled in that area of the city, the City Council called for urban development prizes for new buildings. This is how these families commissioned the modernist architects of the time, such as Puig i Cadafalch, Domenech and Montaner i Gaudí. The result was "Calle de la Discordia", where different families competed for urban planning prizes. This is where the set that characterizes Paseo de Gracia was born: The Amatller House (by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch), the Mulleras House (Enric Sagnier), the León Morera House (by Lluís Domènech i Montaner), the Josefina House Bonet (Marcel-li Coquillat) and Casa Batlló (by Antoni Gaudí).
Later, after the Spanish Civil War in the '50s, the house ceased to belong to the Batlló family. Later it changed its owners until in the 90's it was acquired by the Bernat family. They restored the house and in 1995 opened it to Barcelona society. From 2002, the International Gaudí began cultural visits and was very successful. Finally, in 2005, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and became an icon of modernist architecture and the city of Barcelona.
For the students, it was an incredible experience that let them introduce a little bit into the private management and into the UNESCO's management. We are so grateful to Amilcar Vargas for his collaboration, it was a pleasure.
-Núria Gascons i Cuatrecasas