The street of Montcada gathers together a singular representation of architecture of late medieval Barcelona. The so-called “large houses” that make it up are today a conjunction and superimposition of styles, that despite the transformations, haven’t lost their original spirit.
Detail of the lattice before and after the restoration
Recently the museum has restoratored a singular element on the façade of the old Casa Mauri (18th century); a wooden lattice that according to documentation consulted, would be the unique one of this type conserved in the city.
The lattice is an architectural element belonging to the oriental cultures and very present in Hispano-Muslim art. It can be made out of several materials such as wood or plaster, it provides privacy, filters the sunlight and allows the air to pass through.
Lattice on the façade before the restoration | Detail of the lattice
Along the Catalan coast, and particularly the Maresme coastline, some profusely ornamented examples are conserved in residential buildings from the 18th century, that due to their rounded shape take the name of “convex lattice”. In Barcelona they have disappeared: the modernisation of the city with radical transformations with the opening of the Via Laietana and the remodelling of the square Plaça Nova signified the loss of many architectural elements of this type, of which there only remain graphic testimonies in the form of plates and engravings of the period.
Our lattice on the façade of our museum is, therefore, a singular piece. Like those of the Maresme, it is not flat, and has a rounded shape in the lower part. It is made of pinewood and rests on the stone sill of a window at the height of the first floor. If we look upwards, it becomes notable as the only ornamental element that provides volume and rhythm to the façade. Taking into account the narrowness of the street we should think that its purpose was to give intimacy to the window and to let the inhabitants pf the house to observe the passers-by without being observed.
Removing the lattice | Window that is covered by the lattice | Lattice in the restoration workshop
The photograph published in a book by Carreras Candi suggests that, at some point after 1915, the lattice was considerably transformed. A large part of each of the lateral sections was substituted by solid wood, losing the old slatted part that followed the model of the front part of the lattice.
The main problem of the piece derives from the fact of being an exterior element and, therefore, exposed to an inclement environment, above all dust and damp. The wood had suffered an attack of wood-boring insects, the metal elements had become very rusty and it presented losses that endangered its structural integrity.
The same detail, before and after the intervention. Restoration of some wood losses. Application of a protective coat on the wood, on a basis of ester of boiled linseed oil and natural resin, with the aim of protecting the wood and ensuring a better conservation
Once these pathologies had been assessed, and so as to be able to carry out an exhaustive intervention, it was decided to remove the piece from the façade and take it to the workshop.
The main phases of our intervention have been:
- Disinfection treatment of the wood and treatment against the wood-boring insects
- Cleaning to eliminate the dust stuck to it and the embedded remains
- Structural consolidation by replacing the parts of the lost support and strengthening the originals
- Protection of all the rusty metal elements with tannic acid
Once these phases were complete, the lattice was installed once again on the façade with a new system of greater reversibility that facilitates their conservation and future handling. To improve the protection against the weather, above all the seepage of rainwater, the little roof-covering has been replaced by a zinc strip cover fixed to the joining of the wall.
Detail of the restored little roof-covering, replaced with a zinc strip, which improves the protection from the water compared with the previous one, which had left a part of the top of the lattice unprotected. The zinc strip, as well as being bolted to the upper part of the lattice, is also fixed to the wall with silicon so as to avoid seepages of water
The intervention was carried out by Marta Vilà, external conservator-restorer, assisted by Sonia Berrocal during the dismantling and installation processes of the piece on the façade.
Installation of the lattice once restored
As well as being home to an exceptional collection of Picasso, the buildings of the museum are also an extraordinary heritage of the city, and the conservation and restoration of this architectural ensemble is one of the priorities of the museum. These types of actions allow us to conserve, document and highlight the value, and contribute to a greater knowledge of our heritage.
Head of restoration and preventive conservation
“Geografia General de la Ciutat de Barcelona”. Candi Carreras, F. Barcelona: Martí [s. d.].pàg. 794
“Guia d’arquitectura de Barcelona”. Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Barcelona. Barcelona, 1973. Fitxa B 42