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Gaudi

Architecture Work

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Sala Mercè
(1904)
La Rambla, 122. Barcelona

In November 1904 a cinema owned by painter Lluís Graner i Arrufí and built on the ground floor of an existing building by his friend Antoni Gaudí, was inaugurated in the Rambla in Barcelona. This cinema, the Sala Mercè, admitted 200 people and projected its own creations involving the latest cinematography. It also put on musicals and events combining theatre, music and painting directed by the most famous Catalan theatre designers of the day. It was rounded off by a basement display with dioramas set around an artificial cave.

Gaudí’s radical reform of the premises only lasted until 1916 when the building disappeared due to a change of ownership. No images have survived either of the entrance with its wrought iron sign or of the entry to the underground cave, which some say was a homage to the caves of Artà which the architect visited while restoring Mallorca Cathedral. Inside the cinema of which some photographs have survived Gaudí prioritised rational design, making it easier to see the screen and including inclined seating. So as not to distract the public's attention decoration was kept to a minimum. In spite of this, some interesting details can be seen on the walls including a border with plant decoration and the textured plaster of the walls and ceiling that both improved the acoustics and conveyed the appearance of a cave. 

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