Casa Navàs will inaugurate the reconstructed gable on Thursday the 9th of July
Due to the COVID-19, the inauguration will be on-line. It can be seen through the Casa Navàs website and Canal Reus.
Reus, 3rd of July 2020
After many months of hard work, the Casa Navàs gable is now a reality. It will be inaugurated on the 9th of July at 8.30pm. A consequence of the COVID-19 is that Reus City Hall has not given permission to carry out the presentation with public present in Mercadal Square, so the debut will be on-line. Everyone who wants to follow it can do so through the Casa Navàs website, www.casanavas.cat, and through Canal Reus. The presentation will include the documentary; Casa Navàs. Reconstruint la memòria (Casa Navàs. Rebuilding the memory) and there will be a theatrical re-enactment when the gable is unveiled. The final appearance of the gable is very similar to the one designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner at the beginning of the XX century. We have only been able to interpret the morphology of the small pinnacles, the central ones and the decorative floral crown on all the pinnacles as there are no conserved original pieces.
On the morning of the 26th of March 1938, six SM-79 bombers with 48 explosive bombs and 24 incendiary bombs attacked Reus. One of them directly affected Casa Navàs and destroyed part of the façade, walls and roof, in addition to the tower and the gable. Between the forty’s and sixty’s, important reconstruction work was carried out, but the tower and crowning on the façade were left pending. Now, eighty-two years after the destruction, Casa Navàs is about to recover the original appearance designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
Drafting of the gable project started back in 2014, but it was not until July 2019 that it was presented to the Territorial Commission for Cultural Heritage of the Catalan Government in Tarragona for approval. After studying it in detail, the commission gave the green light and, at the end of January 2020, the stonecutters from the Pedra Maties de Solsona workshop started to sculpt the stone from Vinaixa. In the month of April, the architectonic heritage restoration and refurbishing company Rècop started to work directly on Casa Navàs. The works terminated at the end of June. All this reconstruction process has been closely monitored by the architects of the project, Pau Jansà and Joan Tous, and by the conservator-restorer, Pau Arroyo.
The final appearance of the rebuilt gable is very similar to the one designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The morphology of the decorated stone panels and the large pinnacles, the ones at the edges of the crowning, are practically identical as we have been able to copy them from conserved original pieces. However, the small pinnacles in the centre of the frontispiece are an inspiration because there are no conserved genuine ones. In order to make them, information has been obtained from photographs of the period and from the stonework inside the house. For the work on the crowns with flowers that decorate all the pinnacles, the previous procedure was also followed.
The reconstruction process has been very faithful to the project designed by the architects and the conservator-restorer. Only two changes had to be made. On one hand, the size of the metallic structure that supports the gable was reduced and, on the other, glazed coloured tiles were chosen, just like the originals, instead of brownish colours.
The inauguration of the gable
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the presentation of the gable cannot be carried out with public in Mercadal Square, as was originally planned, because the City Hall has not given permission to occupy public places. Therefore, the inauguration will have to be virtual. The event can be followed through the website of the house, www.casanavas.cat, and through Canal Reus. The event will start at 8.30pm with the documentary Casa Navàs. Reconstruint la memòria (Casa Navàs. Rebuilding the memory) and, later, there will be a theatrical re-enactment that will finish with the gable being unveiled.
Casa Navàs. Rebuilding the memory is a short format documentary produced by the Reus company Acid Factory. It explains the step-by-step reconstruction process of the gable through the people who have been involved in it, such as the architects, the conservator-restorer, the site manager, and the director of Casa Navàs. The ethnologist Salvador Palomar will also participate in order to situate the gable within its context and to explain how people lived through the bombings during the Civil War, and the writer Xavier Amorós, one of the few people from the city who still remembers the appearance the house had before it was destroyed. The aim of the documentary is to leave a legacy of the reconstruction of the gable so that the generations to come can understand the detailed work that was carried out on it.
Apart from just the images shown in the documentary, Acid Factory has been registering the details of every step that has been taken during the reconstruction. All this material will be edited and ceded to the Mas Iglesias Image Centre so that the citizens can have access to it.
Unveiling the gable
Once the documentary is over, there will be a theatrical re-enactment that will finish with the unveiling of the gable. The creation and stage management will be run by the company Lucky Luke, in collaboration with Les Artistes Locals. The stars of the show are the architect who designed Casa Navàs, Lluís Domènech i Montaner (Manuel Barroso), one of the workers who sculpted the stone (Benjamín Miguel) and his girlfriend (Irene Benavent).
The closing act will be Domènech i Montaner inaugurating the gable. At the moment, the gable is covered thanks to the fabric confected by the tailor Josep Maria Casas.
Other events in the house shop
In addition to the gable inauguration, other activities have been prepared. During the week after the inauguration of the crowning of the façade, from the 13th to the 18th of July, the shop will be open all day. Everyone who wants to can enter and watch the documentary, Casa Navàs. Rebuilding the memory. Furthermore, at the entrance to the old textile establishment, two of Domènech’s frontispiece originals will be on exhibit.
In parallel, two conferences have been organised. The first will take place on Monday the 13th of July at 7.30pm. Entitled Bombardments in Reus during the Civil War, the ethnologist Salvador Palomar and the historian Ezequiel Gort will offer a talk in which they explain the effects that the bombings had on the capital of the Baix Camp and, more specifically, on Casa Navàs.
Two days later, on Wednesday the 15th of July at 7.30pm, the architect Joan Tous, the conservator-restorer Pau Arroyo, Rècop’s director of restoration Roser Galceran, and the director of Casa Navàs, Sílvia Sagalà, will be the speakers at the conference entitled The restoration of the Casa Navàs gable. These talks will take an exhaustive look at the reconstruction process of the frontispiece.