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Fusion of style and personality

The building

In 1915, Timoteo Briet was commissioned to design two residential buildings destined to be rented. The client was a priest, Vicente García Gomis, parish priest of the Royal Parish of San Mauro and San Francisco, owner by inheritance of the lots of the main street where the new buildings were going to be built. A few years before, in 1908, Vicente Gomis Gomis had commissioned the adjacent building of Pintor Casanova, 20.

Briet could have made two buildings with the same composition, but his creative genius led him to design two different facades with some elements in common. In this way, the set of buildings on Calle Pintor Casanova, 16, 18 and 20, present an aesthetic diversity that enriches the urban landscape of this corner of the city.

The houses of Pintor Casanova, 18 were conceived for wealthy families, with good economic level, and planned so that they had a cabinet open to the street where it was customary to install consultations and dispatches. They maintained the traditional distribution, inherited from centuries of domestic culture, of placing the dining room around the hearth in the back, but incorporating the sanitary advances of the moment, present in the construction of interior light patios and modern bathrooms.

The type of tenant to whom the construction was directed, in a main street of the bourgeois city, required a greater refinement in the materials used and applied arts. Today still visible thanks to its conservation. Highlights are the carpentry, pavements, plaster, colorful tiling ... a sum of aesthetic resources that enriched the work of the hand of its director.

The spirit of modernity, comfort and exquisiteness of the house had to be reflected before the city, so its facade became the public image of the project. Briet with the elegance that characterizes himself finds the right balance between the elements that make it up.

The architect aligns on two axes the balconies of the three floors of the building, integrating them with framing in two bodies, highlighted on a background tiled with green tiles. The sinuous contour of the cantilevers of the balconies contrasts with the dominance of the verticality of the whole, reduced by highlighting the impost of the second floor starting from the height of the facade.

A balanced, mature modernism is expressed in the work through the design of the carpentry and the locksmith of the set of balustrades of the balconies. The discreet floral details of stamped metal, the wavy plates and reticles that form the lattices, give the facade its distinction.

But the work seems to levitate, lighten, on the metal structure, lintel, which makes the ground floor of the building transparent. Modern times, a busy street, the heart of the city, made the space of this floor an ideal place for the exhibition of a trade and Briet, who already had a long experience in this type of structural solutions knew how to reconcile the technique with some formal details to make it more kind. Centered in the axes of the upper hollows are two pillars of cast iron, with capitals and shafts decorated with reinterpreted motifs of classical orders. In these pillars metal beams, naked, daring are settled. The entrance portal to the hallway of the building opens into the hole that forms the left pillar, closing with two sheets made with cast iron pieces, composing a lace of pieces that allowed a greater luminosity of the interior space.

In Briet's work it is difficult to point out some works of maturity. From the beginning, his projects gave off the quality of those who have spent a lifetime in the trade. However, in his style we see a constant search for innovation, a permanent escape to repeat the last project, something that makes it difficult to put him in a box. With the work of Pintor Casanova, 18 Briet has taken a step beyond his most influential period, Sezession, we see again some elements of the eclecticism of the late nineteenth century, but he expresses with vehemence his sense of balance, of harmony, in short, of elegance; which is always the word that most identifies this master of our architecture.