Casa Milà

Casa Milà,  popularly known as La Pedrera (meaning the 'The Quarry'), is a modernist building in Barcelona. It was the last civil work designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, built between the years 1906 and 1912.

It was commissioned in 1906 by businessman Pere Milà i Camps and his wife Roser Segimon i Artells. At the time, it was controversial because of the undulating stone facade and twisting wrought iron balconies and windows designed by Josep Maria Jujol.

Architecturally it is considered structurally innovative, with a self-supporting stone front and columns, and floors free of load bearing walls. Also innovative is the underground garage.

In 1984 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Currently, it is the headquarters of the Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation, which manages the exhibitions, activities and public visits at Casa Mila.

Casa Milà was built for the married couple Roser Segimon and Pere Milà. Roser Segimon was the wealthy widow of Josep Guardiola, an Indiano (a term applied to the Spaniards returning from the American colonies with tremendous wealth). Her second husband, Pere Milà, was a developer criticized for his flamboyant lifestyle. Residents of Barcelona joked about his love of money and opulence, wondering if he was not rather more interested in "the widow’s guardiola" (piggy bank), than in "Guardiola’s widow".

Gaudí, a Catholic and a devotee of the Virgin Mary, planned for the Casa Milà to be a spiritual symbol. Overt religious elements include an excerpt from the Rosary prayer on the cornice and planned statues of Mary, specifically Our Lady of the Rosary, and two archangels, St. Michael and St. Gabriel.

The design by Gaudí was not followed in some aspects. The local government fined the owners for many infractions of building codes and ordered the demolition of aspects exceeding the height standard for the city. The Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century Architecture states that the statuary was indeed Mary the mother of Jesus, also noting Gaudí's devoutness, and notes that the owner decided not to include it after Semana Trágica, an outbreak of anticlericalism in the city. After the decision was made to exclude the statuary of Mary and the archangels, Gaudí contemplated abandoning the project but was persuaded not to by a priest.

Casa Milà is the result of two buildings, which are structured around two courtyards that provide light to the nine levels: basement, ground floor, mezzanine, main (or noble) floor, four upper floors, and an attic. The basement was intended to be the garage, the main floor the residence of the Milàs (a flat of all 1,323 m2), and the rest distributed over 20 homes for rent. The resulting layout is shaped like an asymmetrical "8" because of the different shape and size of the courtyards. The attic housed the laundry and drying areas, forming an insulating space for the building and simultaneously determining the levels of the roof.

One of the most significant parts of the building is the roof, crowned with skylights, staircase exits, fans, and chimneys. All of these elements, constructed with timbrel coated with limestone, broken marble or glass, have a specific architectural function. Nevertheless, they have become real sculptures integrated into the building.

The building is a unique entity, where the shape of the exterior continues to the interior. The apartments feature ceilings with plaster reliefs of great dynamism, handcrafted wooden doors, windows, and furniture, and the design of the hydraulic pavement and different ornamental elements.

The stairways were intended for services, in that access to housing was by elevator except for the noble floor, where Gaudí added a staircase of a particular configuration.

Gaudí wanted the people who lived in the flats to all know each other. Therefore, there were only lifts on every second floor so people had to communicate with one another on different floors.