Casa Milà history
Casa Milà was commissioned as a residence by Pedro Milà. He was a wealthy businessman who had been enchanted by one of Gaudi’s previous buildings; Casa Battló. What he ended up with was an even more unconventional building, as Gaudi took his creativity one step further. Gaudi´s design was so unorthodox that even the local government objected to some aspects of the project, as it didn’t follow the normal building codes.
Art Nouveau masterpiece
This wonderfully strange building was constructed between 1906 and 1910, a key time in the history of Barcelona as the city opened up to modernization. It was also a period where the Art Nouveau was at its peak. It is a style of art and architecture which embraces vivid decorative shapes and prefers curves over straight lines.
The movement spread all over the world, even to the strict catholic and rather old-fashioned Catalan region. One of the movement’s front figures became the Barcelona based architect Antonio Gaudi. This building is rated as, not only one of Antonio Gaudi’s most intriguing and spectacular buildings, but as a crown jewel of the whole Art Nouveau movement.
The building was originally named Casa Milà, based on the founder of the house, but it is more known as “La Pedrera” – meaning “the Quarry”. The nickname was given to the house already during the construction phase, when the crowds saw the beginning of the strange stone structure.
An innovative design
Gaudi’s building plan completely broke away from the norm of the district of Barcelona. He used a new and audacious building structure, supported by columns of stone and brick and an incorporated steel web instead of relying on load-bearing walls.
This gave Gaudi total freedom over the distribution of each floor, leaving him free to create completely irregular floor plans where even the height of the pillars and ceilings could vary. Even though Gaudi’s building technique was unique, he – and this building in particular – is most known for extraordinary shapes.
Why visit Casa Milà ?
Casa Milà is one of the most fascinating buildings in the world. By looking at the enchanting façade, visitors will see an impressive, varied and harmonious mass of undulating stone without any real straight lines. Gaudi is said to have envisioned the facade as a petrified wave. Many people think it is the hardness and solidity of the material in contrast with the sensation of movement in these waves that makes the façade so spectacular.
Gaudi’s ocean theme is further evident when looking at the balconies. The balconies are beautifully decorated with exquisitely crafted iron, depicting underwater plants and vegetation.
Visitors paying extra attention to the balconies will almost be able to see how the vegetation is moving along with the water. Another ocean themed part is the sidewalk next to the building, which is covered in starfish ceramic tiles. The magnificent façade, together with the interior marine decorations, makes up a fantastic underwater landscape.
While the façade and the interior of the building is wonderful, one shouldn’t forget what can be found on the rooftop. On the roof stands chimneys and ventilation just as on any other roof. These are however designed by Gaudi in true Gaudi fashion with extraordinary shapes and vivid imagination. The unique components are made of broken tile shard mosaic, Ulldecona stone, marble and ceramics. There is also a level difference and several staircases on the roof, which makes it all look more like a landscape than a rooftop.
The staircases and chimneys have long fascinated visitors. The rooftop and its figures have been interpreted in many different ways; some have seen them as phantasmagorical figures and warriors while others have seen it as a dream landscape. The roof-terrace also provides its visitors with a nice great over the area.
La Pedrera is owned by the Catalonian Bank Caixa Catalunya, who bought, restored and opened up the building to tourists in the mid 1980ies. It has today become the head office of their cultural foundation which annually hosts a variety of exhibitions and cultural events.
The building is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List and it is the last example of Gaudi’s civil architecture. It is considered one of the most imaginative houses in the history of architecture.
Casa Milà location
Casa Milà is located in central Barcelona, in eastern Spain. The building can be found on the street Paseo de Gracia in central parts of the city. For the exact location of Casa Milà, check out the location map to the right.