Restoration of Vil.la Joana

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Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer

Final touches at Vil.la Joana!!  The house-museum Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer is to be delivered to BIMSA and, finally to MUHBA, by mid December. Renovation works have been thorough and extensive, restoring the beautifil building to its original condition of Vallvidrera’s pearl.

An old masia, recorded as early as the XVI century, it was adquired by the Miralles family in the XIX century. Ramon Miralles, renowned builder and major of Sarriá, extended the house with magnificent galleries, that gave the old Masia its present presence over the north-westen tibidabo slopes.

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Miralles was the man who invited the mythical Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer, “the prince of the Catalan poets”, to recover from his acute tuberculosis. The damp weather of the valley probably encouraged Mossèn Cinto to finally, and humbly, accept leaving this world. Word is spread that the masovera of Vil.la Joana had a hidden door through which she took clandestine soups to the ill man, but as always nothing  stops destiny’s wheel from turning.

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Mossèn Cinto had always been a very popular character in modernist Cataluña. His epic poem “Canigó” constitutes one of the decisive pieces of literature of the Renaixença catalana. In any case Mossèn was, over all, a romantic man, and his trip to the holy land after publishing the poem did not left him untouched. In fact it raised in him a personal crisis from which he did not recover.

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Right after the trip he devoted his time to meditation and alms. He also frequented fortune tellers and exorcist circles, a fact that did not please much the bishop of Barcelona, who formally exiled Mossèn Cinto from the city. As a good romantic he developed tuberculosis, and it was at the heights of his illness that on may 17th 1902 Miralles invited him to recover at Vil.la Joana, right on the municipal border of Barcelona. Mossèn cinto died on June the 10th.

After that in 1920 the municipality of Barcelona bought Vil.la Joana and had it become a special school for the blind, deaf-mute and the disabled. In 1962 the building was reasigned the function of House-museum in memory of Mossèn Cinto, but given the state of decay of the house the headquarters where set off to a different location.

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Now by grace of MUHBA, and through BIMSA’s hard work, the house has been restored as Mossèn Cinto’s House Muesum, to the full excitement of the Verdaguerians, with a project by A+M architects, my partners, friends and mentors.

I joined the project as a collaborator once the works had started. First thing that happened is that once COPCISA started scratching, structural surprises awaited: what appeared to be a solid construction had in fact many damaged elements and some mud structural walls at different levels.

That is when I joined A+M to integrate all the structural needs. Toghether we reviewd the whole project, through some months of intensive work, that carried along the complexity of having to match  last moment changes with construction deadlines.

In any case the results will be evident in some weeks. The main purpose was, as always with A+M, to reveal the original values of the building, equip the museum with modern facilities and provide the municipality with a versatile infrasturcture that will adapt to future uses.

The experience of A+M architects, Tomàs Morató and Jaume Arderiu is evident to the experienced eye. Being both masters of design, Tomàs follows the project meticulously so the design leifmotives are maintained through all phases, so the final result matches the initial imagined spaces. Jaume is just a magician of details, and is very strict in good practices in building, so with their mixed talents works are assured to drift well. My role there is to give shape to their magic.

So an integral renewal of the building has been achieved with litlle cost, through traditional catalan techniques and a very  good eye to set the main strategies and priorities of the renewal. I am very proud of the job done, and grateful to A+M for the opportunity and teachings. COPCISA also performed greatly, through the hand of Marina González Acero and the strong and endearing hand of the master of works, Ernesto.

Do come visit when the Museum is open

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