Arts and Culture

See how Gaudí's Casa Batlló takes our heritage into the digital age

Refik Anadol, Casa Batlló

In the Mind of Gaudi by Refik Anadol for Casa Batlló's Gaudí Cube, a real 360° LED screen experience. Image: Casa Batlló/Claudia Mauriño

Joseph Fowler
Head, Arts and Culture, World Economic Forum
Amilcar Vargas
World Heritage Manager, Casa Batlló Gaudí
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Arts and Culture

  • Cultural heritage is an intrinsic part of our cultural diversity, serving as a bridge between the past, present and future.
  • The technological revolution allows us to digitalize artefacts, artworks, historical documents and traditional practices, making them more accessible globally and transcending physical barriers.
  • Antoni Gaudí's Casa Batlló has been reimagined with specially commissioned digital art by contemporary artists Refik Anadol and Sofia Crespo.

Cultural heritage is a vital part of our collective shared human history and a perpetual source of inspiration, innovation and creation. It is an intrinsic part of our cultural diversity, serving as a bridge between the past, present and future. It allows us to understand and appreciate the multiple traditions, beliefs and practices that have shaped and continue to shape our societies. This is why we need to preserve and enhance it.

In doing so, we can ensure that future generations have the opportunity to connect with their roots, celebrate their identities and learn from the wisdom of those who came before us. It is through the preservation of cultural heritage that we can continue to honour and respect the richness and diversity of human experience, fostering a sense of unity and understanding among people from all walks of life.

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Digitalizing art

The technological revolution allows us to digitalize artefacts, artworks, historical documents and traditional practices, making them more accessible globally and transcending physical barriers. Virtual reality (VR) museums, 3D reconstructions of archaeological sites and immersive augmented reality (AR) experiences offer innovative ways for people to engage with the past, enabling them to connect with distant civilisations and historical events in ways previously unimaginable.

Casa Batlló, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Barcelona, is an architectural gem crafted by the legendary Antoni Gaudí. It epitomizes the fusion of creativity, innovation and heritage since its creation in 1906.

Dr. Amilcar Vargas is responsible for the World Heritage Management of Casa Batlló and is committed to ensuring the preservation of its rich outstanding universal value, authenticity, and integrity, while simultaneously embracing technological advancements through the integration of digital tools, such as AR and VR, honouring Gaudí’s innovative spirit.

These technologies provide powerful ways to unveil the intricate stories and architectural nuances of Casa Batlló. They enable engagement with a modern audience, whilst captivating and conveying the essence of Gaudí’s work that makes the joy of analogical and digital generations.

Living Architecture: Casa Batlló by Refik Anadol Image: Casa Batlló/Claudia Mauriño

Bringing technology to Casa Batlló

Between 1904 and 1906, Gaudí designed the façade and interiors of Casa Batlló. Many years later, propelling Gaudi's legacy into the future, the iconic façade has been brought to life with specially commissioned AI and AR-driven digital art by contemporary artists Refik Anadol and Sofia Crespo. Inspired by the genius and his work, these artists had the challenge of placing a digital work of art on an iconic heritage of humanity.

Structures of Being by Sofia Crespo for Casa Batlló Image: Casa Batlló/Claudia Mauriño

Refik Anadol’s spectacular futuristic vision of Gaudí's legacy entitled Living Architecture: Casa Batlló attracted over 65,000 people in 2022 and 2023, whilst 95,000 gathered to watch the spectacular live mapping entitled Structures of Being by Sofia Crespo in 2024. Those nights, digital art took over the Passeig de Gràcia Avenue in a way that democratized art and made it accessible to a large audience.

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Refik Anadol's Betazone session at the 2023 Annual Meeting, Davos, Switzerland

Gaudi inspires an NFT

Furthermore, Casa Batlló also made history in the digital art space as Living Architecture: Casa Batlló was auctioned as a dynamic NFT at Christie's on 11 May 2022, with a final price of $1.38 million.

According to the global museum sector online publication Museums+Heritage Advisor, technologies are becoming standard in museums and world heritage sites around the globe. The state-of-the-art technology is being employed as a tool for dynamic engagement and also as a means of enhancing the visitor experience.

Casa Batlló has introduced a pioneering and unique approach to its visitor experience. This includes impossible volumetric projections, binaural sound, motion sensors, immersive spaces unique in the world and delicate proposals that appeal to senses, such as smell, offering the visitor sensations never experienced before.

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Technology inspired time travel

This one-of-a-kind visitor experience, which has already received different international awards, invites visitors to use a specially designed handheld tablet that serves as a window through which visitors can travel back 100 years to experience and discover Gaudí’s creative universe and the fascinating history of Casa Batlló.

The future of museums and world heritage sites is an exciting prospect that combines art, innovation and inclusivity. Technology plays a crucial role in transforming the cultural experience, making it more interactive and accessible to a wider audience. Museums and world heritage are evolving into dynamic spaces that preserve history and inspire and educate visitors. As we move forward, we can anticipate a future where museums and world heritage sites continue to integrate state-of-the-art technology to offer new ways to explore, learn and imagine, creating a more engaging and enriching experience for all.

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