La Pedrera | Barcelona Bus Turístic

La Pedrera

A fusion of fantasy and functionality

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Casa Milà, more popularly known as La Pedrera, Catalan for ‘stone quarry’, due to its exterior similarity to one, was the last civil engineering project undertaken by the architect Antoni Gaudí before exclusively working on the Sagrada Família. It is a sight not to be missed. Built from 1906 to 1910, in 1994 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Why visit La Pedrera?

In 1906 the entrepreneur Pere Milà i Camps commissioned the construction of the building to Antoni Gaudí and gave him a free hand with its design. The architect’s imagination and pragmatism resulted in an aesthetically impressive and architecturally prodigious building. It not only has a structure based on columns and floors without load-bearing walls, in such a way that all internal walls can be removed without affecting the stability of the building, but its facade, which is completely made of stone, is self-supporting and is not required to support the loads of the floors. Gaudí also installed a basement parking garage, considered at the time to be a highly innovative element.

What draws the visitor’s attention is undoubtedly the facade, which simulates a rolling sea tossing seaweed, in the form of the wrought iron balconies largely designed by Josep Maria Jujol, from wave to wave. As the facade’s daring undulating forms did not respect conventional styles, Casa Milà was widely criticised and given the pejorative nickname of La Pedrera by which it is still popularly known today.

If you visit the interior of La Pedrera, you will first access the main floor, where the Milà family lived. It is now home to a large exhibition space. Then you can visit a floor that recreates an early 20th-century residence and depicts the lifestyle of a bourgeois family, featuring furniture and domestic appliances from the period and ornamental elements designed by Gaudí.

You should also see the attic, whose 800 m2 surface area Gaudí designed to be independent of the rest of the building. It formerly housed laundry sinks and acted as a thermal regulator, isolating the building from extreme temperatures. It is an open-plan space formed by 270 catenary arches of different heights which hold up the roof. This construction technique, known as the Catalan vault, was very popular in the period and was even exported to the United States of America by the Valencia-born architect Rafael Guastavino, who applied it in a number of projects, including New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

In 1953 this top floor of La Pedrera was remodelled by the architect Francisco Barba Corsini, who created thirteen rental apartments in it with a modern aesthetic that did not respect Gaudí’s original design concept. When in 1996 the building was bought by Caixa Catalunya it recovered its original appearance and is now home to the Espai Gaudí or Gaudí Space, which houses an exhibition on the life and work of the architect.

The roof, one of the building’s most spectacular elements, can also be visited. It is an unusual design charged with an artistic strength that was far removed from the architecture of Gaudí’s time. Its sinuous profile, which follows the form and rhythm of the main facade, features a number of distinctive elements: staircase exits, ventilation towers and chimneys. Despite their dynamic and freely interpretable symbolic forms they all correspond to a preconceived utilitarian function. These elements are covered with a trencadís mosaic of ceramic tiles, stone, marble and glass.

 

How do you get to La Pedrera?

La Pedrera is on the corner of Passeig de Gràcia and Carrer de Provença. Just hop off at the Passeig de Gràcia – La Pedrera stop on the Red and Blue Routes of Barcelona Bus Turístic, which is right in front of the building.

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? It is not actually one building but two independent six-storey blocks that are joined only at the bottom and are articulated around two internal courtyards, one circular and one oval. The facade unifying the two constructions is one of Gaudí’s most significant accomplishments.
  • Local’s tip: La Pedrera can be visited in a number of different ways: during the day, at night, with a focus on Gaudí’s work… and on summer nights jazz and other concerts are held on the roof. It is advisable to consult its programme.
  • A must: To understand Modernisme and Gaudí’s work and to awaken your senses and let your imagination fly.