One of Antoni Guadi’s buildings, the Casa Milà (also known as La Pedrera or “the quarry”), is a marvel of both art and architecture. While the wavy, undulating face of the building is beautiful and unique, it also allows the face of the building to stand without supports. Other features of the design were considered innovative for the time, and still are today, with one of the first underground parking garages.
Like most of the houses he built for his personal clients, the Casa Milà has its own individual theme. Being a devout Catholic, Guadi chose to make this house a tribute to the Virgin Mary and his religion. After battling the city of Barcelona for building permits and fighting against the anti-religious attitudes rising in the city, some of the religious elements were eliminated from the design, but on the whole, it still stands as a monument to Catholicism.
Aside from the religious overtones, Casa Milà is an incredible tribute to both geometry and to nature. Everything, from the façade of the building to the doorways and chimneys, was carefully crafted to be both functional and a piece of art. The Casa was built as an apartment complex, to be rented out to the wealthy of Barcelona, but Guadi was feared that they would seclude themselves in their rooms. As a way to ensure that all of the tenants had the opportunity to get to know one another, he made the lifts stop only on every other floor, so there would be greater interaction.
The genius of Guadi is apparent in the structure of the building, which allows for large, open spaces, well supported by building, as well as the ability to change the size and structure of any individual room without compromising the entire building. Using arches and iron, the building is extremely structurally sound, which is one of the reasons it has survived this long.
Casa Milà has a number of tour packages, which make it possible to explore the design and architecture of this incredible building. Visitors will get a firsthand look at life in the early twentieth century, the ideas and beauty of this time period all encapsulated here. The first tour, which is only given during the day, shows visitors a number of rooms, furnished in the same style they would have been a century ago, as well as the courtyards, all the while explaining the function and the beauty of every architectural feature. One of the many draws is the chimneys on the roof, which look like helmeted warriors preparing for battle.
The second tour package is conducted only at night and show off the secrets of the building, from the private lives of one-time residents, to the behind-the-scenes work of the servants who kept the building thriving during that time.
Besides being a wonder of architecture and a wonderful representation of the period’s art, Casa Milà gives visitors a look at a time not so long ago, at how they lived, how they worked, and how they played. It is both an art gallery and a museum in one, with plenty of places to explore and wonders to behold.