Casa Mila is perhaps one of the most well-known buildings of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. Apart from its unique contribution to the Barcelona skyline, this structure is also unique in the world. It is impossible to come across any similar Casa Mila globally, where you can feel Antoni Gaudi’s unique style in every square centimeter. So let’s take a closer look here.
A Unique Apartment
Antoni Gaudi built Casa Mila between 1906-1910 for a wealthy businessperson, Pere Mila. Already the name Casa Mila means “Mila’s House.” However, the building is often referred to as La Pedrera due to the limestone on the exterior when Gaudi first built it. The fact that the city residents thought that the window openings are like the caves. La Pedrera means ‘stone quarry.’
Casa Mila, like many great works, was hardly understood in its time. Some received it with appreciation, as well as those who brought significant criticism. It is not difficult to imagine Casa Mila’s negative comments since Antoni Gaudi was an architect whose design language is hard to understand. Still, all this does not prevent us from appreciating Casa Mila today. Already in 1984, the building was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list and thus protected.
The building consists of 8 floors. While the building entrance is a mezzanine floor, Casa Mila residents scatter to their apartments from here. In the first design, the main floor was reserved for the Mila family’s use, Casa Mila’s original owners, while Gaudi thought the tenants would use the other floors. Apart from the living floors, Casa Mila also has a ground floor, basement, and penthouse. Gaudi designed the ground floor as a parking lot, making Casa Mila the first apartment in Barcelona with indoor parking. There is another example of Antoni Gaudi’s advanced architectural vision.
Apart from the floors, Casa Mila also has two courtyards. It is impossible to see these courtyards from outside the building. You can reach each of them by spiral stairs from inside the apartment. The ironwork that you can see in the Art Nouveau style on the stair handrails, doors, and balconies is worth seeing.
Today, no one uses Casa Mila for accommodation. However, you can visit a sample flat furnished with original furniture from the early 20th century. The penthouse of Casa Mila serves as the Antoni Gaudi Museum. Apart from that, it also has an auditorium, temporary exhibition, terrace bar and restaurant. Moreover, it is open in the evenings. In other words, Casa Mila is still a living place that you can visit during the day.
Now that we have talked about Casa Mila’s general plan, we can move on to more detailed sections. Anyone who looks at Casa Mila and has an idea about Antoni Gaudi will instantly see the architect’s traces in him. While challenging the right-angled architecture with the absence of any flat walls, nature directed Gaudi while building Casa Mila. Moreover, this wavy form continues throughout the facade of the building. So, how can an undulating limestone facade support an 8-story apartment?
Gaudi has wholly separated the shell and structure in Casa Mila to solve this problem. You can see the carrier system best on the roof floor of the building. It is possible to see the brick arches here. Also, he used steel beams in different parts of the building to support the wavy form. In other words, the facade does not have any bearing feature.
Finally, some elements on the roof of Casa Mila seem to have no function but have a secret purpose. At the top, some surrealist sculptures are accompanying the fantastic view of Barcelona. They do more than make Casa Mila visitors feel like they are in a fairy tale land; they hide the building’s chimneys. Thus, when we visit Casa Mila, we see how versatile and visionary Gaudi is, an architect who can think in detail at every step.