It is something of a misnomer to call the unconventional home of Catalan artist Xavier Corberó a ‘house’. This architectural gem is a masterpiece, a utopian work of art that Corberó constructed over more than forty years of his life (it remained unfinished at the time of his death in 2017). Located in Esplugues de Llobregat, a municipality of the Barcelona metropolitan area, the sprawling home is described as a ‘cathedral of modernism’. Set across 48,000 square feet, a spellbinding network of nine interconnected concrete buildings and courtyards, replete with archways and colonnades, are a playground for light and shadows. At the centre, a six-storey octagonal atrium appears like a well of arches, with hanging plants and vines encircling its upper level. Throughout the estate, cloistered nooks, crannies, stairways, and walkways lead somewhere and nowhere, playing impish tricks on the mind. In many ways, to explore Corberó’s home is to venture into an ‘Escher-like whirlwind of art’ (the works by Dutch graphic artist Escher were characterised by their visual illusions).
Xavier Corberó’s home is built on the site of a former masia. A rural construction found in eastern Spain’s Catalan-speaking regions, a masia is part of a larger, isolated estate, usually associated with livestock and farming. Corberó bought the masia (a one-time potato farm) in the 1960s—having fallen into disrepair, the modest dwelling was scheduled to be demolished in order to make way for a new highway intersection. The masia became the setting for ‘Arte Povera’, an anti-establishment, artistic movement that originated in Italy in the late 1960s, and championed the use of commonplace materials. Corberó hunted through Catalan quarries, finding ‘art supplies’ that he would use to fashion contemporary sculptures. This period marked the beginning of what would become Corberó’s intricate, maze-like home.
More than a house, Xavier Corberó was firm in the belief that his home was a in fact a ‘place’, arising from the union of spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. Corberó’s place has welcomed many visitors throughout the years, including painters and sculptors, who lived there as part of an art residency programme. With no time for rules or self-congratulation, Corberó’s own attitude to the programme was laissez-faire in nature—he once exclaimed, ‘they [the artists] are here to find themselves, not me.’
Today, Xavier Corberó is remembered as a renowned Spanish sculptor. His sculptural works, typically monumental in scale, were often hewn from ballast or marble. They can be found in cities across the world, including London and New York, in his beloved Barcelona, and in every part of his home. Corberó is considered by many as the most important Catalan artist since Spanish architect Antonio Gaudí (the architect behind many of Barcelona’s architectural marvels, Gaudí was a friend of Corberó’s grandfather and an inspiring figure to the artist’s younger self). Corberó himself was friends with several eccentric characters, most notably the Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and French-born Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp. Their wonderfully madcap artistic approaches had a visible influence on Corberó’s own work, including his divine, labyrinthine home.
A dreamlike place filled with architectural possibilities, Corberó’s sculptural opus is on the one hand, a continuous work in progress. On the other, it is a work of perfection.
Xavier Corberó’s expansive home offers a sublime location in which to organise a photo shoot. Both LZF and Spanish outdoor furniture brand GANDIABLASCO recently photographed new collections at Corberó’s home. You can read more about GANDIABLASCO in an LZF interview here.
The house of Xavier Corberó is part of LZF’s ‘Building Brilliance’ series.