"La Pedrera" breaks with the architectural language of its time and anticipates the architecture of the 20th century. With this masterpiece, Gaudi achieved his own artistic universe.
Casa Milà is an unavoidable and breathtaking focal point located in a corner of Barcelona’s Paseo de Gracia. The majestic stone building, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí is a global symbol of modernist architecture. La Pedrera, as it’s also known, currently houses a cultural center for the presentation of interactive activities and art exhibitions for the general public. But this monument, conceived as a work of art in itself and declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984, has a rich history.
The industrial revolution contributed to the establishment of the modernist aesthetics in Europe at the eve of the 20th century. In Catalonia, the “haute bourgeoisie”, eager to express its own identity, highlighting their wealth and distinction, wholeheartedly supported modernist architecture.
In light of this momentous artistic trend, the wealthy businessman and politician Pere Milà i Camps and his wife, Roser Segimon, commissioned Gaudí to create a large scale project with innovative and elegant details. The primary purpose of the iconic building was to serve as the family’s residence, with some apartments for rent since the neighborhood was becoming the preferred area for Barcelona’s upper class.
The construction of La Pedrera began in 1906: six floors, taking over two blocks with separate entrances, laid out around two interior courtyards. The architectural concept was inspired by the organic shapes of nature: leaves, flowers and curvy lines are integrated as decorative elements, present in every detail of the entire structure.
The facade shows the individual creative freedom that characterizes Gaudí’s oeuvre. Its design evokes the waves of the sea and provides excellent chromatic contrasts of light and shadows as the hours go by. This innovation in formal dynamism features wrought-iron balconies decorated with abstract motifs, which infuse this excellent construction with a unique and distinctive personality.
The interiors of Casa Milà follow the same organic and functional style. The Catalan architect took care of every detail, and both the sumptuous halls and the two large staircases located at the main entrance are decorated with wall paintings steeped in mythological themes. Another masterful space is the roof terrace, also open to the public. Its undulating forms and chimneys carefully coated with ceramic fragments in the shape of human figures, have become the idyllic postcard of a city that appreciates good taste in architecture.
The completion of this 1912 masterpiece marked a milestone in Gaudí’s formal language, combining, in luxurious harmony, the ornamental elements with the excellent functionality of the structure.
Today, La Pedrera is a cultural and creative space that hosts an important selection of projects. It has an extensive program of exhibitions, artistic displays, shows and conferences throughout the year. It also boasts an area dedicated to multimedia and interactive technology, as well as a luxurious and modern café with exquisite cuisine and live world music. ■
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