Contemporary retrofitting techniques used on its facade has restored Barcelona landmark Casa Mila back to former glories after an 11 month period of restoration work.
The building features wavy walls made of rough-chipped stone suggesting frozen ocean waves, while doors and windows look like they are dug out of sand. Wrought iron balconies contrast with the limestone and an array of chimney stacks seem to across the roof.
All of these features were preserved in the restoration work undertaken by the city authorities with architects studying the original plans and recreating the materials used in order to preserve authenticity.
The modernist design in the Catalan region of Spain dates from 1906 and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. Commissioned by businessman Pere Milia i Camps and his wife Roser Segimon i Artells as a residential project it took more than five years to build.
Now it is home to the Fundacio-Catalunya La Pedrera which manages exhibitions and activities in the building as well as ensuring access to the public.
Architecturally the building – also known as La Pedrera or The Quarry – by Antoni Gaudi is regarded as an innovative work with its columns and floors free of load bearing walls. The facacde – made of stone – is also self-supporting and this part of the structure was the focus of the restorations work.
It is made of two different types of stone – the Garraf lime stone and Vilafranca stone. These materials degenerate and mean work needs to be carried out every 10 to 12 years to ensure they do not cause structural problems.
The building is 1,323 m2 per floor on a plot of 1,620 m2. Gaudí began the first sketches in his workshop where he conceived of this house as a constant curve, both outside and inside – which contributes to a feeling that it is organic, rather than man-made.
Casa Mila is built around two courtyards that provide light to the nine levels: basement, ground floor, mezzanine, main floor, four upper floors, and an attic.
The resulting layout is shaped in an octagonal form because of the different shape and size of the courtyards.
One of the most significant parts of the building is the roof, crowned with skylights, staircase exits, fans, and chimneys. It is very popular with tourists for the views it offers across the city.
All of the rooftop structures are constructed with timbrel coated with limestone, broken marble or glass, and each has a specific architectural function – however they resemble sculptures
Interiors include handcrafted wooden doors and furniture while Gaudí wanted the people who lived in the flats to all get to know each other. Therefore he only put lifts on every second floor so people had to communicate with one another on different floors.
The building has become part of the urban fabric of the city and featured in the film The Passenger, starring Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider as well as a Woody Allen movie called Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which stars Scarlett Johansson.