The Palau Güell, completed when the architect was only 38, is the culmination of Gaudí's youthful production, a work in which his total mastery of the use of architectural space became evident. Fascinated by the young architect, in 1885 Eusebi Güell commissioned him to build his residence in the centre of Barcelona, setting no limit on the cost. Gaudí responded with an exuberant, thoughtful work with an almost obsessive attention to detail.
Conceived as both as a home and for social gatherings, the Palau Güell is organised around a central lounge whose height extends up three floors and is covered with a parabolic dome that recalls the night sky. This imposing space served both as a concert room and for family prayers, thanks to an original cupboard that opened to reveal an altar. Around it Gaudí set out the rooms of the palace in a totally functional fashion, creating plays of perspective to give a feeling of spaciousness to a building that in fact occupies a relatively small plot.
As well as its central lounge, other striking features of the Palau Güell are the stables and roof terrace. The former are in the basement, where the exposed brick vaults and fungiform columns constitute an iconic landscape in the work of Gaudí. The aperture in the roof terrace, an exterior projection of the lounge, and the sculptural treatment of the twenty chimneys that surround it are precursors of ideas that the architect was to use later in the Casa Batlló and La Pedrera.