AD Classics: Casa Milà / Antoni Gaudí

© Samuel Ludwig

With its undulating façade and surrealist sculptural roof, Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Milà appears more organic than artificial, as if it were carved straight from the ground. Known as La Pedera, the quarry, the building was inspired by the Modernista movement, Spain’s version of Art Nouveau..

Constructed in 1912 for Roser Segimon and Pere Milà, the building is divided into nine levels: basement, ground floor, mezzanine, main floor, four upper floors, and attic. The ground floor acted as the garage, the mezzanine for entry, the main floor for the Milàs, and the upper floors for rent. The building surrounds two interior courtyards, making for a figure-eight shape in plan. On the roof is the famous sculpture terrace. Practically, it houses skylights, emergency stairs, fans, and chimneys, but each function’s envelope takes on an autonomously sculptural quality which has become a part of the building itself.

© Samuel Ludwig

Structurally, the building is divided between structure and skin. The stone façade has no load-bearing function. Steel beams with the same curvature support the facade’s weight by attaching to the structure. This allowed Gaudi to design the façade without structural constraints, and ultimately enabled his conception of a continuously curved façade. The structure holding up the roof, too, allows for an organic geometry. Composed of 270 parabolic brick arches of varying height, the spine-like rib structure creates a varied topography above it.

© Samuel Ludwig

Formally, the façade can be read in three sections: the street façade, spanning the ground floor; the main façade, including the main and upper floors; and the roof structure, which houses the attic and supports the roof garden. Made of limestone blocks, the curve of the main façade has a weighty and textured quality of the organic. Above it is a curvaceous mass on which surrealist anthropomorphic sculptures perch. Their presence contributes to the almost flowing dynamism of the building’s aesthetic.

© Samuel Ludwig

The Casa Milà, which was ultimately a controversial building, contributed greatly to the Modernista movement and modernism as a whole. It pushed formal boundaries of rectilinearity and, as Gaudi intentionally drew from natural and organic forms for the building’s shape, significantly inspired practices of biomimicry. Gaudi was a genius of structure and form, and the Casa Milà attests to that.

Architects:
Location: Casa Mila
Architect In Charge: Antoni Gaudi
Client: Roser Segimon and Pere Milà
Year: 1912
Photographs: Samuel Ludwig

Cite: C. Molloy, Jonathan. "AD Classics: Casa Milà / Antoni Gaudí" 03 May 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=367681>
  • Carla

    This building is named “la Pedrera”, not “la Pedera !

  • Patrick H

    Amazing building… Over 100 years old and still fresher than most things built today.

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  • Tony Tsai

    Personally the spirit of Antonio Gaudi approached his design was what intrigued me to do a research about Casa Mila. The freedom of his expression and the confidence of his vision pushed the building to become one of the most influential modernist designs. His boldness of going against the grain when designing this project was undeniable. Despite all the negativity against Gaudi’s vision his had to face over the years. Casa Mila was a protest, a power vision using symbols to express his feelings and ideas. He wanted to give Barcelona a breath of fresh air, an original piece of architecture that would shake up the world. Casa Mila was the product of that creation, the idea that Gaudi attempted to produce something innovative. Regardless of all the controversy surrounding him, he pioneered a building that buries no resembles to any others in the early 19th century. Even though Gaudi is no longer with us anymore but he left us a great example of what humans mind could potentially pushed modern architecture on to, which is Casa Mila.

  • Mark

    Is there not a Floor Plan of the Roof available. Trying to find one…