La Ricarda: An Architectural and Cultural Project

An exhibition about one of the key midcentury buildings in Spain









Iker Gil is the curator of La Ricarda: An Architectural and Cultural Project. The exhibition took place between October 12, 2019 and October 26, 2019, at the Lawrence & Clark gallery coinciding with the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

La Ricarda or Casa Gomis, completed in 1963, is one of the key midcentury buildings in Spain. Located by the Mediterranean Sea in El Prat de Llobregat, a town 10 miles southwest of Barcelona, the house was commissioned by Ricardo Gomis and Inés Bertrand in 1949. Barcelona-born architect Antonio Bonet Castellana, who had trained with Le Corbusier and Josep Lluís Sert, designed the house while living in Buenos Aires, where he had emigrated from Paris after the start of the Spanish Civil War. Working closely with the clients via letters, Bonet designed every aspect of the building, from the overall organization to the materials, interior details, and furniture. The result was a spacious and harmonious house defined by an 8.8m x 8.8m grid of thin metal pillars and vaults, with connected but distinct areas for the different uses. The house was also designed with its natural surroundings in mind, blurring inside and outside, and paying special attention to the nearby pines, dunes, and water.

Besides its architectural merit, the house is also remarkable for the critical cultural role it played in Catalonia since its completion. The Gomis Bertrand family supported and welcomed to the house intellectuals and artists during Franco’s dictatorship in Spain. Organized by Club 49, a private association that promoted avant-garde cultural activities, which Ricardo Gomis belonged to, the house hosted many cultural activities, from concerts that benefited from its state-of-the-art sound system to dance performances and theater shows. It was a haven for artistic experimentation.

Today, the house is still owned by the Gomis Bertrand family who has diligently preserved it in its original state, including its furniture, with the help of local architects Fernando Álvarez and Jordi Roig. Seventy years after it was commissioned, the house continues to be a must-see destination for architecture students and professionals from around the world. However, the future of Casa Gomis is uncertain. The passage of time, the humid climate and proximity to the sea, as well as the nearby Barcelona airport (its third runway is less than 1,500 feet away) put into question its long-term future. Now is the time to define the legal framework and secure the funds to ensure the maintenance and conservation of a key architectural and cultural project.

The exhibition, curated by Iker Gil, features photographs by Inés Bertrand Mata, Adrià Goula, and Eulàlia Domènech, as well as drawings by Ricardo Flores, Fernando Álvarez, and Jordi Roig. Publications and original items complement the selection.

The exhibition is a partner program of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Photography by Iker Gil.

Type: Exhibition
Location: Lawrence & Clark
Curator: Iker Gil
Organized by: MAS Context
Participants: Fernando Álvarez, Inés Bertrand Mata, Eulàlia Domènech, Ricardo Flores, Adrià Goula, and Jordi Roig
Exhibition Design: Iker Gil
Installation: Bianca Bova, Iker Gil, and Jason Pickleman
Support: Chuck Thurow
Year: 2019
Status: Completed


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