Friday, April 11, 2008

Barcelona, La Pedrera

One of the houses that Antoni Gaudi designed and built, is called Casa Mila, but the name that is more often used is 'La Predrera', which means stone quarry.
On the broad avenue this appartment building attracts all the attention. It looks so completely different than the other buildings in that same street - but what an impression it makes! If you have not seen any pictures of it before - you really are gobsmacked!

This almost white building is built with fluid lines, and although it might look a bit strange and fairytale like, it just feels good. I think that Gaudi understood that people need to live in houses with naturally, soft lines instead of sharp edged buildings. On the outside, nothing looks the same. There is the rhythm of repetition of the balconies, for instance. But all balconies are a bit different - just like the leaves on a tree all look the same but have different sizes.
Especially when you look up, you see the differences in the flowing lines. And I especially like the 'see-through' balconies, allowing light to pass through the floor to the appartment underneath.

We went inside the building - the detailing in the building is amazing! Everywhere you see the soft flowing lines, somehow it just feels so good. It must be a lovely place to live in.
One of the apartments is open to the public and you get a good feel of how it must have been when the building was finished. The light is shining so beautyful in these rooms, soft and warm.

Another surprise is the attic. Meant to be a place where the water reservoirs where placed and the maids hung the wash to dry - it is unbelievable that it was just used for that. Gaudi used soft shaped arches that were to carry the weight of the roof. He used a warm coloured stone and the craftmenship of the bricklaying is impressive. It has the appearance of a cathedral - but instead of creating a distance, it creates a connection because of the smaller scale.

And then up to the roof. Even there Gaudi managed to create undulating lines, you go up and down on little steps to go around the roof. He also created an oval and round courtyard, again different in appearance, in the building and the roof just follow these lines.
Since none of the chimneys and ventilation towers are all different, you just loose the sense of direction and keep going on and on. Everytime you turn around, the view changes and invites you to explore.
I love these chimneys. Some may find them look like skeletons - I thought they looked like charming bandits with masks around their nose and mouth, staring out over the city of Barcelona.
Again, none of these bandits look the same, and from every angle you get a completely different look of these sculptures.

And then there are these ventilation towers, each one looks different again, and they are covered in mosaics. Strange flowing lines make them look, to me at least, like giant chess pieces. Beautiful crafted - real pieces of art, placed on a roof...

Too bad that we did not have the time anymore to visit Casa Batilo, a house that is shaped like a dragon...
The next day we went to Girona, to discover the old medieval part of the city, completely different architecture, before we would have to pack our bags and fly back to Holland.
One thing is for sure - I will come back and visit Barcelona again - there is too much to see, too much to enjoy, so much to be inspired by.