Casa Convalescència

Stop 1: The Casa de Convalescència at Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. The façade

The Casa de Convalescència was built between 1922 and 1930 within the boundaries of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau complex, in the Guinardó neighbourhood (Horta-Guinardó district, Barcelona). Barcelona's Hospital de la Santa Creu dates back to the 15th Century, when the city's cathedral chapter and the Consell de Cent governmental institution commissioned the building of a hospital in the Raval district to merge the five existing hospitals of medieval origin. The first stone was laid in 1401 but the building continued to grow until the 18th Century.

In 1622 arose the idea of creating a building devoted to convalescent patients, allowing these to be separated from patients with more serious or infectious illnesses. This project eventually got under way in 1629, thanks to an initial financial legacy. Work came to a halt in 1638 due to a fire, and resumed in 1646 thanks to a generous legacy from the merchant Pau Ferran. The Casa de Convalescència was administered separately from the hospital, having its own funds and patronage. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Barcelona's overpopulation and the insufficient capacity of the Hospital de la Santa Creu created a need for a new hospital, on which work began in 1902, far away from the overcrowded Raval district. The chosen location was Guinardó, an area made up at that time of crop fields, pastures and scattered farmhouses.

The leading patron was the banker Pau Gil i Serra (1816-1896), who left a large amount of money in his will for the purchase of land and the construction of a civil hospital, which would incorporate the best medical, technological and structural features of foreign hospitals and would bear his name: Hospital de Sant Pau. In 1913, the hospital was renamed Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.

The hospital complex was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner (1850–1923), a renowned Catalan‑Modernist architect and a contemporary of Antoni Gaudí (1852‑1926) and Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867–1956). On his death, his son and collaborator, Pere Domènech i Roura (1881–1962) took over the project and it was he who completed the new Casa de Convalescència: a majestic building, located on the north-east corner of the complex, and opposite the hospital's Administration Pavilion, which sets up a dialogue between the two.

The building's façades are grandiose, theatrical and robust. The front combines the sobriety of its materials – brick and stone – with the sophistication of its medieval- and Renaissance-style decoration: blind arcades, semi-circular and stilted arches, trefoil windows, small rose windows, pinnacles, columns with floral capitals, watchtowers, running balconies and niches on the corners. It also includes a portico covered by a balcony that runs along the whole façade.