Updated Apr 21 2020
The Col·legi de les Teresianes (1887-1889), which is also known as Col·legi Teresià e in english Teresian College, is one of the first major works designed by the modernist architect Antonio Gaudí, and it can be found in the upper part of Barcelona, on Carrer Ganduxer in the Sarrià – Sant Gervasi district – which was at the time independent from Barcelona.
Information about the Teresian College in Barcelona
The school was conceived by San Enrique de Ossó, a priest and founder of the ‘Congregació de les Germanes de la Companyia de Santa Teresa de Jesús’, and he offered the design of the project to Antoni Gaudí when its structural foundations were already at a height of 80cm. The clear guidelines that the architect received when he inherited the project were above all to maintain the simplicity in the design’s lines and shapes, so that the austerity that the congregation promoted was adhered to.
The façade of Teresian College
Looking at the façade, you immediately notice that Gaudí largely followed the instructions to keep a simple design, and a clear example of this is the fact that he continued to use brick, which was a cheap material, as well as the straight lines that dominate its structure. However, in spite of this Gaudí still took a few liberties, such as the inclusion of the points that crown the façade, in which the turrets on the corners stand out. Another addition that Gaudí made to the original design was the main body of the entrance, which protrudes from the façade and on which the school’s coat of arms and the use of different bright colours stand out, a hint towards the marked change in style between the exterior and interior of the building.
The building’s interior
If the building’s exterior reminds us of medieval architecture, the interior is quite the opposite, with clear reference to the gothic and Mudéjar styles. This is due to the fact that Gaudí had more freedom to work inside the building, further away from possible criticism than its outside, which is much more exposed.
On the ground floor the width of the main hallway stands out, as it is wider than the rooms to each side, as does a series of catenary arches, which serve the purpose of supporting the weight of the upper floor as well as having a decorative purpose.
The normal reply would be “to a loft” or “to another floor” but where Gaudí is involved, not everything is as it seems. On the first floor of the school you will see a set of stairs that actually don’t lead anywhere. It’s just a little game that the architect plays with the space, a technique that he also employed with some of his other works, as is the case with the Palau Güell.
Just as with Gaudí’s other works, you immediately notice the obsession the architect had for using natural daylight as much as possible, and he designed different atria to this effect, to allow light to enter, on the ground floor as well as on the upper floors. Other ‘Gaudian’ hallmarks include the use of wrought iron and the presence of parabolic archways, which are visible in the corridors on the building’s first floor. You will also see the ‘forest of pillars’ – on the first floor, which is one more example of how Gaudí tried to incorporate nature into each of his works.
Unfortunately the answer is that you can’t, because the building still has the same purpose as that for which it was designed, and is a working school. It’s therefore not open to tourists and from the street you can only see the upper art of its façade, because the rest is protected by a wall that surrounds the site.
The outside: if you’re interested in getting a better look at the façade, you can do so by going to the school when the children are leaving to go home, and asking permission to take a quick look.
The inside:: As far as the inside is concerned, it’s much more complicated to gain access, so the best thing is to wait for one of the open days that are organised from time to time, and that often take place during the 48H Open House Barcelona festival, an architecture festival that is celebrated each year in the city.