El Capricho is a villa in Comillas (Cantabria), Spain, designed by Antoni Gaudí. It was built in 1883–1885 for the summer use of a wealthy client, Máximo Díaz de Quijano. El Capricho belongs to the architect’s orientalist period, during the beginnings of Gaudi’s artwork. The building allows seeing all the foundations on which Modernisme is based, anticipating Europe’s avant-garde Art Nouveau.
It was given the name “El Capricho” in reference to, and drawing an analogy with, the free and capricious style of the musical work by the same name
Its Modernist style here experiments with the fusion between music and architecture, achieving a new effect on this building. It has a mixture of Arabesque (tiles, brickwork…) and neo-Gothic elements and tree shapes. A highlight is the cylindrical tower, decorated with ceramics depicting sunflowers. The glass windows are also important: There are references to music and nature (animals playing different instruments). Regarding the decoration, Gaudí uses iron to try and break the mould.
It is considered a building of Cultural Interest
The building has stone on the low part and brick and ceramic tiles on the top. The walls on the façade are covered with decorative sunflowers, a characteristic detail of the building. Curved lines preside over straight lines and the power of red, green, and blue invade the structure of the building. The most representative thing of El Capricho is the Persian minaret. El Capricho de Gaudí is considered a building of Cultural Interest.
Many have compared this building to another of Gaudi’s architectural projects, namely Casa Vicens. Differences in the layouts have been put down to the two donors having alternative needs and requirements for their homes. Casa Vicens certainly holds less light than the building that you see here, with El Capricho making use of a number of particularly large windows. This also had the added impact of giving an extra feeling of space within that part of the house. The process by which this building was designed and constructed differed from Gaudi’s normal approach – he was not always present at the site during construction and left some duties with a trusted colleague.
Photography by David Cardelús