Casa Mila is one of Gaudi's masterworks. It is recognized, along with a number of other Gaudi buildings in the area, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its imagery is iconic for the Modernisme movement, Gaudi, and Bareclona.
Casa Mila sits at a corner along Passeig de Grącia which is sometimes, rather inappropriately, called Barcelona's Fifth Avenue. I mention the inappropriateness because the European fashions, boutiques, great dining, and walking experience outshine Fifth Avenue. Maybe we should work to talk up New York's Passeig de Gracia, huh?
Even from the street the exterior is clearly different than nearly all of its neighbors. The building is described as being organic or, more to point, biomorphic. Building fixtures resemble vines or branches, while surfaces are shaped in ways that recall sand dunes or water-smoothed stone. The stucture mimics natural forms and patterns in ways that make you almost believe that it grew up out of the ground in the heart of Barcelona. At first these shapes seem random or without a real logic, like the landscapes of a Dr. Seuss book. But further study (see below) reveals a logic and a reason for much of the design. Gaudi was also engaged in the pioneering act of telling concrete what to do instead of simply doing what he was told by the materials. The result is a building made of the same heavy and cold materials used in prisons but with a result that is light and fanciful.
It is also known as La Pedrera, The Quarry or Cave, because of its unusual organic forms. Even in the ground floor hallway, there was an openness and connection to the courtyard that prevented visitors from definitively seeing themselves as being indoors or outdoors. The ground floor rolls up and down gently making the hallways feel even more like walking through a landscape rather than a building.
Wow! Even the apartment is a complete experience.
Here is a view inside the attic where you can clearly see the catenary arches that use the strong elegance of the parabaloic curve to distribute the load. The arches were part of the obscured sense behind what seemed at times to be nonsensical forms.
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