Page C2.1 . 16 February 2005                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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Salvador Dalí — Architect

by Rachel Grossman

Throughout his life, surrealist Catalan artist Salvador Dalí played the role of cultural provocateur, but behind the extravagance was a more subtle, private man. His artistically formative years revolved around his intense relationship with his wife, Gala Diakonova, and their treasured joint project, a house in the remote Port of Lligat on the Mediterranean coast near Cadaqués, Spain.

Arguably, the Port Lligat house reflects the true Dalí. It served as his retreat from the world, his only permanent residence, and his primary workplace. The house is characterized by a Mediterranean vernacular. Its defining features are white-washed walls, ceramic roof tiles, meandering interior pathways, and cascading volumes typical of Mediterranean villages.

The simple, intimate, modular spaces reflect Dalí's faith in traditional values, his love affair with his native landscape, and his desire to blend in rather than stand out. The craggy coastline typical of the region, where he spent his summers during his youth, fractures light and creates the particular velvety, unnatural sky and textures found in his paintings. Significantly, Dalí often made conceptual drawings while traveling, then returned to Port Lligat to actually paint his works in the natural setting that helped inspire his aesthetic.

Design by Collection

Before Dalí's and Gala's arrival, Port Lligat was a small cluster of fishermen's huts. With an advance from one of his first patrons, Dalí bought two adjacent huts in 1930. By incorporating panoramic windows, he oriented the nascent structure towards the seascape.   >>>

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Exterior view of the Port Lligat house built by and for Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala Diakonova.
Photo: Courtesy of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation

ArchWeek Image

The dove house overlooking the Lligat bay illustrates Dalí's use of traditional Mediterranean materials.
Photo: Courtesy of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation

 

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