Behind the image of today’s damaged building hides the most complete, fantastic and splendid interior of European modernism. Entering the house is like entering a large artificial garden full of flourishes in which the stained glass windows stand out, with more than two hundred square metres of surface between skylights, partitions, doors and windows.
Due to its singularity, Casa Navàs is one of the best examples of Modernism at a European level. Built between 1901 and 1908 by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner and the decorator Gaspar Homar, it is the only modernist work in Europe that has survived to the present day as it was first opened.
The building was commissioned by Joaquim Navàs, a rich textile merchant, at a time when Reus was in full effervescence. Navàs and his wife, Pepa Blasco, entrusted Domènech i Montaner with the construction of a house-shop in one of the corners of the Plaza del Mercadal in Reus. The request had an unlimited budget, which is why it became one of the most luxurious works by the architect from Barcelona.
The architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner began to design the Casa Navàs. This was a commission from Joaquim Navàs and Pepa Blasco, these textile merchants give the architect a blank cheque so that he had the budget he needed and give him total freedom of creation.
With the building still under construction, the terrace of Jesús Street was closed with a gallery of arches.
Domènech i Montaner was commissioned to build a house-shop for the Navàs-Blasco family. The first thing they finished was the shop, which opened to the public in 1905.
A bomb exploded in the house that Joaquim and Pepa had in the Boca de la Mina. The authorship is unknown. Although there is no human damage to be regretted, the merchant is very frightened and goes to live with his wife in Barcelona. They often go down to Reus to supervise the works and visit the family.
This is the year in which the Casa Navàs was officially finished, although they still worked on it for a few more years.
As evidenced by a preserved receipt from the period, this is the year in which the last glass of the house was installed. It is the stained glass window that separates the stairs from the hall.
Year of the death of Joaquim Navàs. He was buried with all the honours after a ceremony in the Priory of Sant Pere presided over by the highest authorities of the territory. Pepa Blasco moves definitively to live at Casa Navàs. Mr. Navàs never lived in the house.
Year of the death of the lady of the house. Joaquim Navàs and Pepa Blasco had no descendants, so they shared the legacy among her nephews and nieces. Her godson, Joaquim Blasco, inherits Casa Navàs. He moved to live in the house with his wife, Maria Font de Rubinat, and their children.
The Blasco-Font de Rubinat couple decided not to leave the Casa Navàs during the Spanish Civil War despite the fact that most of the people from Reus left the centre of the city due to the constant bombardments. One of these bombs hit the house on 24 March 1938, destroying a large part of the second floor, the tower and the head of the building. The family moved to Salou.
When the war ended, Joaquim Blasco was imprisoned and Maria Font de Rubinat and her children went to live with their father, Pau Font de Rubinat.
A finals del 1939, Joaquim Blasco és alliberat. Per qüestions laborals es trasllada a Múrcia. Mentre el patriarca no troba lloc perquè s’hi estableixi tota la família, Maria Font de Rubinat continua vivint a casa del seu pare. Aquell any la parella decideix començar les obres de rehabilitació de la Casa Navàs; la prioritat és restaurar tota l’estructura perquè la casa torni a ser habitable. Les obres s’allarguen fins al 1943.
At the end of 1939, Joaquim Blasco was released. For work reasons he moved to Murcia. While the patriarch does not find a place for his family to live, Maria Font de Rubinat continued to live in her father’s house. That year the couple decided to begin the rehabilitation of the Casa Navàs, the priority was to restore the entire structure so that the house became habitable again. The works lasted until 1943.
Once the restoration works finished, they rented Casa Navàs. First a notary lived there, but he left the house after a few months and another notary rented the house for a few months.
Doctor Nolla and his wife rented the hous. Many people from Reus remember the time when they had the privilege of going to the doctor in the most singular building of the city. The Nolla family were the people who enjoyed the house the longest, as they lived in it for almost 40 years.
The owner of Casa Navàs died in 1976. Joaquim Blasco left the house to his two eldest sons, Joaquim and Jaume Blasco Font de Rubinat.
In 1980, Maria Font de Rubinat, already a widow and around eighty, settled in Casa Navàs with her son Joaquim. She lived there until the last of her days, in 1998. Maria and her children protected the house from any renovation and modernisation, and they also invested as much money as they could. Among other things, they bought the buildings next to Casa Navàs to protect it and restored most of the stained glass windows that had been destroyed during the war.
Joaquim Blasco died on 15 June 2009. After his mother died, he continued to spend most of the day at Casa Navàs. With his death, the house passed into the hands of his brothers: Pela, Màxim and Dolors. They are in charge of restoring the tribune of the façade and the arches of the terrace.
In November 2018, a businessman from Reus decided to buy the house in order to open it to the public, since until now it could only be visited one day a week. A third is still in the hands of one of the heirs of the Blasco-Font de Rubinat family.
In the summer of 2019 Casa Navàs opened its doors to visitors so as not to close them again, since then, the house can be visited every day. At the moment, the property is studying what restoration work and ‘museumisation’ must be done in this jewel of European modernism.