Saturday, 22 February 2014

Gaudi's Casa Mila Going Back to Nature

Not many people have heard the name Antoni Gaudi, I didn't either before I went to Barcelona. He's this super duper famous Spanish architect. Every Spanish person knows him and his works are often visible right before your eyes in Barcelona.

Here are a few facts about Antoni Gaudi i Cornet (1852-1926):
  1. He was born in Reus, Catalonia Spain, (close to Barcelona)
  2. He died from getting hit by a moving tram
  3. His gravestone bears this inscription: "Antoni Gaudí Cornet. From Reus. At the age of 74, a man of exemplary life, skilled craftsman of wonderful works, creator of temples, died a pious in Barcelona on 10 June 1926, from the ashes of this great man, the resurrection of the dead is waiting. Rest in peace."
  4. His magnum opus is The Sagrada Familia (a blog post will come soon about this!)
  5. His works are solely concentrated on architecture, nature and religion

The fact that he is Barcelonian (is that a word?), means that his works, techniques and styles are echoed within Barcelona. For example, the floor tilings along Passeig de Garcia are made up of Gaudi tiles, the benches and some light posts are also reminiscent of his works.  Passeig de Garcia is not only famous for shopping but for Gaudi's architectural works. Just diagonal from Suites Avenue, is Casa Mila, or La Pedrera. It's this really eye-catching building that Gaudi designed as a place for the Mila family, who were one of the wealthiest in the city. Casa Mila is a huge apartment like building with several suites within it. Only several people live in them now as it has turned in to a touristic and museum like place. It's not like anything I've ever seen. Gaudi's work is so distinctive and different, it's pretty wacky and weird too. There's lots of organic lines, movement, curves and slopes that make it all flow and presents a sense of warm elegance. You really can see how Gaudi brings in nature in to his works.

The above pictures is the roof top of Casa Mila, the building runs in a wavy oblong shaped building with several holes, with windows down the middle. It's also pretty high up so, you can see Gaudi's magnum opus, The Sagrada Familia and most of Barcelona on a clear day.

This is one of the holes in the middle of Casa Mila, the windows you see here are from the several rooms inside. Down below is the entrance lobby, it's a very bright place. There are lots of windows around the whole building so that natural sunlight comes through in to the housing areas. The little tiny windows though, the ones that stick out on the rust colored wall, emit very little light in to the attic, where there is a super informative museum. It gives you information about Gaudi's life, his inspirations and influences, how the building was constructed and other aspects of the Spanish architect's life and works.

This is Casa Mila on a smaller scale.

These natural forms included, animal carcases, root vegetables, ferns, petrified woods, bark, tree forms and many other things derived from Mother Nature.

This is the tile that is used along Passeig de Garcia, although not in green, the ones used are of dark grey color. It just makes the the whole street more pretty, interesting and cultural. You know when you're driving along numerous asphalt road and you turn in to a neighborhood with roads that suddenly change in to cobblestone or lined bricks and you think 'Wow, I'm in a completely different place.'? It's like that.

After the roof top and the attic museum, you're able to wander through the apartments and see how people lived back then. They've let original furniture stay so that it's transformed in to a walk-in museum. Everything inside exuded a sense of clarity, cool and calm for some reason. Maybe because everyone was quiet while examining everything. The furniture was slightly creepy, but some aspects were so nice. I really liked all the white they used in the building. White always seems like a calm color. I also loved the chandelier, the windows, marble tiling and the lace curtains. All the vintage posters in frames were also so cute. I actually wouldn't mind living in Casa Mila, if you took out all the creepy furniture, install some modern appliances, I think it's would be a lovely place to live. It's so bright and everything you look at looks elegant and somewhat expensive. It's also something that doesn't exists anywhere else, it's one of a kind.

Like many other aspects of Gaudi's work, the entrance lobby is somewhat ethereal. It slightly reminds me of a tropical lagoon. There's lots of palm leaves lined up the stair way, the light comes through the gaping holes and reflect off the marble floors, the iron gates and the stair rails are synonymous to vines. I wonder what the remaining people living in Casa Mila are like. Are they young or old? Royalty maybe? Or having a high position is society? Families or singles? I'm so curious.

The top photo is a view looking down the gaping holes from the roof top, while the bottom photo is a picture looking up from the entrance lobby.

This is the outside of Casa Mila. At the gift shop, we bought a book on this special building called 'Gaudi La Pedrera | A work of "Total art"' published by Triangle Postals written by Josep M. Carandell and with photography by Pere Vivas. In this book there's a section of a paragraph that described the intentions of Gaudi with the outside of the building that I want to share. 

"The facade of this stone building undulates like the waves in the sea. Here the stone is as soft as water and the water as hard as stone.... Gaudi wanted to show that is all the building is in movement it is because it is alive, like an organism, like a living being. Gaudi was, therefore, an architect-alchemist, for who the material is something living: stone is water, iron on the balconies are animals and plants... the three kingdoms,, animal, vegetable and mineral, co-exist, mix with each other: they are one and the same."

When you do look at Casa Mila as a whole, you can see the intentions of Gaudi, the building does look like an enormous creature. I also like the idea of everything coming back to nature. All the man-made materials that Gaudi has used, have in the end, turned in to nature.