Building Series: The Eccentric

16 September, 2021

A Bird’s-Eye View of Casa Mil

This lovely, idiosyncratic building was designed by Antoni Gaudi but was promptly dubbed La Pedrera—"the stone quarry"—by neighbors who were less than charmed by its asymmetrical, rough-hewn design and undulating walls.

Gaudi, a Catholic and devotee of the Virgin Mary, planned Casa Milà as a spiritual symbol. However, the building’s uniqueness became the object of ridicule by the good citizens of Barcelona and various humorous publications. The design? Well, as Wikipedia notes, “It’s clear that Gaudi was no respecter of conventional style.”  

Casa Milà consists of two buildings structured around two courtyards that provide light from basement to attic. The layout looks rather like the numeral “8,” because the courtyards are differently shaped and sized.

Skylights accent the roof, as well as exits from staircases, fans, and chimneys—all built with brick covered in lime and decorated with broken marble or glass.

Twenty-eight chimneys emerge from the roof in several groupings. Two partially hidden vents help circulate the building’s air and four domes push air out the façade. Staircases provide a home for snail-shaped water tanks.  

Some believe the interior of La Pedrera was influenced by sketches Gaudi made of medieval fortresses. This impression is reinforced by the helmet-shaped, sentinel-like rooftop chimneys. Others, perhaps influenced by the freewheeling 60s, might say the structure is psychedelic, resembling the most benign and imaginative of acid trips.


In December 1910, Gaudi certified the first floor of the building was ready for move-in. By the end of October 1912, the rest of the building was completed. Readers who have built or renovated dwellings can likely imagine what it might have been like for Pere Milà and his wife Roser Segimon to have lived there during the final two years of construction.
As the years went on, La Pedrera fell on hard times. The building was painted a dingy brown, and many of its interior color schemes were abandoned or left to deterorate. Fortunately, a restoration effort that began in 1969 restored much of the original color scheme reappeared. Then, In 1984, UNESCO declared La Pedrera a World Heritage Site.

A word about Antoni Gaudi

Born in 1852 in Catalonia, Spain, Gaudi was practical and craftsman-like. Yet he was open to new styles and followed his artistic impulses. Today he is seen as a pioneer of modern architecture and is known for buildings and public structures such as Casa Vicens, Parc Güell and Casa Batlló.
We hope you’ll join us on Thursday, October 14th for our next installment If you have a building, you’d like to nominate for coverage this link will take you to a page to make your nomination which can be anonymous, if you prefer.

The Eccentric

Name and location: Casa Milà, Barcelona Spain
Style: Modernist
Architect: Antoni Gaudi
Year completed: 1910
La Pedrera