Today, the General Manager of the Gas Natural Fenosa Foundation, Pedro-A. Fábregas, presented “Juli Batllevell, un gaudinià oblidat” ("Juli Batllevell, A Forgotten Gaudian"), the first temporary exhibition hosted by the Gas Museum since its inauguration last January.
Through a documentary, photos and original pieces designed by Juli Batllevell, the exhibition offers a journey in pictures through Catalonia in the early twentieth century, a society in ferment that found in the architecture the clearest way to show the profound social changes produced by phenomena such as industrialisation, the increasing role of the bourgeoisie or the birth of urban life.
Among all the material exhibited that composes the first exhibition organised so far about Batllevell - material recovered for the occasion from private archives and from a variety of bodies, are to be found images unpublished up to now of works of the architect as significant for the architecture of the past century as the Casa Antònia Burés, the Casa Trias in Park Güell or the decoration, with Oleguer Junyent, of the Cercle del Liceu in Barcelona.
Juli Batllevell worked with Gaudi on such acclaimed works as the Park Güell and the Casa Calvet, but decided to undertake a solo career that would always be marked by eclecticism: unlike his famous teacher, Batllevell decided against a single style. The architect decided to imprint a singular character on each building, which creates solutions in accordance with the comission, whether Modernist, Noucentist or uncatologable in any specific style. One of the clearest examples of Batllevell’s style is the building, designed by the architect in 1899 as the power station producing electricity from gas engines and which today houses the Gas Museum.
Juli Batllevell (Sabadell, 1864 – Barcelona, 1928) was not only one of the visible heads of the Catalan architectural splendour of the early twentieth century, but also throughout his long and varied career he devoted time to town planning, especially in his hometown, of which he was also the city architect. The challenge of improving the urban layout of a place that, because of industry, increased its population and hosted some of the factories, especially textile ones- at the leading edge of the time, was a complex exercise that was completed with a one of the most versatile professional profiles of his time.
Presentation of the first monograph on Batllevell
During the conference, the book was also submitted that, under the same name as the exhibition, is the first work carried out on the life and work of the Catalan architect. The book, written by the historian and art critic Josep Casamartina (Sabadell, 1956), collects and analyses in more than four hundred pages the works of Batllevell in three cities essential to his career-Barcelona, Badalona and Sabadell - in which he carried out all types of civil works, such as cinemas, theatres, and a great number of factories.
In addition to the General Manager of the Gas Natural Fenosa Foundation, the press presentation ceremony counted on the participation of the book's author and co-curator of the exhibition, Josep Casamartina i Parassols, who ran through and evaluated the career of the architect from Sabadell. The official ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. and will be chaired by the Minister of Culture of the Generalitat de Cataluny, Ferran Mascarell i Canalda, and will be attended by Daniel Giralt-Miracle, Curator of the Gaudí Year.
The Gas Museum
The Gas Museum, housed in the Modernist building. La Energía in the Plaça de Gas, Sabadell (Barcelona), is a new cultural facility promoted by the Gas Natural Fenosa Foundation, Spain's only museum dedicated to the gas industry.
With the aim of preserving and promoting the historical heritage of the gas and electricity sector and of exploring the future of new energies and their interaction with the environment, throughout the year the centre offers courses, workshops and activities for schoolchildren and professionals.
Precisely the first temporary exhibition housed by the Gas Museum runs through the career of the architect who was commissioned to design the original building; Juli Batllevell created and directed the project, commissioned by Joan Brujas, owner of La Energía, a company engaged in the production of electricity, which in 1913 became part of Catalana Gas y Electricidad.
The efficiency and sustainability of the building is evident in its very design through the installation of low energy lighting, the carefully thought-out sealing in of the exterior finished off with a cistern on the Observation Deck, the use of recycled materials, the incorporation of photovoltaic elements or modern systems to control the management of water and energy consumption of the building.
For its part, the permanent exhibition of the Gas Museum covers the history of GAS NATURAL FENOSA from 1843 to the present. It provides a description of the evolution of the gas and electricity industry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and how the evolution of technology has facilitated social change. In this context, it examines the present and future of energy, the importance of using natural resources efficiently and how to obtain energy in a continuous, economical way and with a low environmental impact. The Museum is also a documentation centre that houses the important Historical Archives of the Gas Natural Fenosa Foundation.