Vil·la Joana, the former residence of Verdaguer, is destined to become a literary centre

Promoted by the Museum of History of Barcelona (MUHBA) the aim of the project is to celebrate and disseminate literature in all its forms and demonstrate the potential of Barcelona as a literary city

Jacint Verdaguer, who was known as the people’s poet, passed his final days in Vil·la Joana, a residence located in the Vallvidrera neighbourhood of Barcelona. Set on the limits of the municipal boundaries, this former farmhouse has become a symbol of the literary heritage of both the poet and the city in general.

The aim of the project Vil·la Joana. Casa Verdaguer de la Literatura is to emphasise the intense relationship between the city of Barcelona and the literary world. A synthesis of urban and rural environments, Vil·la Joana will be converted into a literary centre designed to champion and promote the extensive literary heritage of the city of Barcelona – a place for the celebration of the word ‘literary’ in all its connotations and capacities.

The former farmhouse located within the Parc de Collserola is currently closed to the general public due to remodelling work being carried out in its interior. These works began after the summer of 2014 and are expected to finish early in 2016, the proposed opening date for the new centre. The works have revealed a number of archaeological findings, including water springs and deposits which, along with the wall hangings of the former farmhouse, will be on display during visits.

Vil·la Joana will host an exhibition dedicated to the history of the house and man’s relationship with the Collserola Mountains. In addition, the fact that the house used to be a school provides an incentive to offer insights into the history of writing and present original editions of certain works that have been the reason for words being introduced into our dictionaries, such as “Lolita” or “Kafkaesque”. The principal space will be dedicated to literature itself, from the great Western classics to less-known traditions and what is referred to as “minor” literature while, finally, an audio-visual Literarium will offer visitors an idea of the enormity of universal literary tradition.

As is to be expected, Catalan literature will have a special place here, with works ranging from Joanot Martorell up to the latest names, and not overlooking the likes of Victor Balaguer and Pitarra, and ancient spaces will be given over to new uses, for example, the former school’s kitchen will offer visitors a chance to reflect on the sensorial properties of certain literary works.

Finally, the title of the house being Casa Verdaguer de la Literatura, Vil·la Joana will dedicate a number of rooms to the figure of the Folgueroles-born poet, preserving the room where he spent the final weeks of his life and offering insights into his relationship with the society of the era, his position in world literature and the phenomenon of his massive funeral. The house will also preserve a selection of his first editions and translations into other languages.

On another note, Vil·la Joana will also be a centre for collaboration with other literary entities such as the Escola d'Escriptura de l'Ateneu Barcelonès and other research groups and literary activities will be commonplace.

Promoted by the Museum of History of Barcelona (MUHBA), the Vil·la Joana project forms part of Barcelona’s proposals for its presentation as a candidate for the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Publication date: Wednesday, 04 March 2015
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