Casa Vicens was the first important commission received by Antoni Gaudí, just after he completed his degree in architecture. He was recommended by Manuel Vicens i Montaner, who wanted to build a summer residence on a plot owned by his family in the village of Gràcia, not yet assimilated into Barcelona. Gaudí presented the project in 1880 but work did not start until 1883 and went on to 1888.
Gaudí designed a four-floored house with a simple structure, still nowhere near the curved lines and architectural innovation of his later work, but interesting for its showy decoration, with fascinating spaces like the dining and smoking rooms. The explosion of colour in its ornamental details, greatly influenced by Arabic and eastern art, make Casa Vicens a clear precursor of the Modernista movement.
Casa Vicens originally abutted onto a convent on one side and a magnificent garden on the other. In 1925, after the convent had been demolished, architect Joan Baptista i Serra extended the house, carefully respecting the original work. The garden disappeared gradually over the years, with the loss of a monumental fountain with parabolic arch designed by Gaudí.