Casa Mila (La pedrera)
Casa Mila is one of the most popular landmarks in Barcelona. The locals refer to this building as the quarry or la Pedrera because of its irregular facade. However, when Gaudi started working on this building in 1906 and his design began to take form, many people found it absurd. Many residents in this upscale neighborhood were not happy about this house and they even stopped talking to the Mila’s who were the family that commissioned the building to Gaudi. They argued that the house would lower the value of land and homes in the area.
Everything about this house is unique and fascinating. Gaudi went all out on the ventilation of this house. He opted for a natural system with courtyards, fans, chimneys and skylights. Gaudi designed Casa Mila exclusively with natural forms so not a single right angle can be found.
Casa Mila was a residential building until 1986, when Caixa Catalunya Bank paid 6,2 million dollars for the building and began renovations in order to open it up to tourists. There are still rented residential apartments in the building that are home to families that have been living here for more than 70 years. Today only three tenants remain.
Writer Ana Viladomiu is one of the three tenants still leaving in Casa Mila. I recommend her book La Ultima Vecina (The Last Neighbor) where she writes about the history of the building and her experience living with hundreds of tourists swarming through the building on a daily basis.