BARCELONA, Spain — Every 12 months, greater than 1,000,000 individuals go to the house of Ana Viladomiu in Barcelona. She does her finest to keep away from them.
Ms. Viladomiu lives in La Pedrera, the final home constructed by Antoni Gaudí, the good Catalan architect who died after being hit by a tram in 1926. His works across the metropolis have helped make Barcelona one among Europe’s predominant tourism hubs.
On most days, lengthy traces type outdoors La Pedrera, whose undulating and uneven stone facade makes it look as if cave dwellings had been carved into a large rock. Once inside, guests uncover a constructing with uncommon options from backside to high. The tiled courtyard on the entrance resembles an underwater forest; the roof terrace has chimneys formed like helmets.
For Ms. Viladomiu, nonetheless, residing in La Pedrera raises some sensible points, beginning along with her day by day wrestle to attain the elevator that leads to her fourth-floor condominium.
“I’ve found myself many times elbowing my way home, while people shouted at me because they thought I was jumping the ticket queue,” she stated not too long ago in an interview in her condominium. “That’s not a great situation to be in, especially if you’re carrying your shopping bags back home.”
The condominium itself is a whitewashed and ethereal 350 sq. meters, or about three,750 sq. toes, and is flippantly furnished and has giant bay home windows. She has lived there for the reason that 1980s.
Ms. Viladomiu, 63 and a author, moved into the constructing shortly after assembly her husband, who rented one of many flats earlier than La Pedrera was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1984.
Gaudí designed the constructing as a personal residence, which was then shared amongst a number of tenants.
In 1906, he was commissioned by a rich couple — Roser Segimon and her husband, Pere Milà — to construct their new residence on what was then changing into — and stays — town’s trendy buying avenue, Passeig de Gracia.
Gaudí took six years to full the constructing, after which the couple saved the primary ground for themselves, however rented out the extra house, which had been subdivided into 20 flats.
Gaudí’s constructing, formally known as Casa Milà, turned the discuss of Barcelona even earlier than it was accomplished. It was quickly dubbed La Pedrera, or the stone quarry, due to its rough-looking facade and asymmetrical form.
His design was satirized by newspaper cartoonists, and led to some authorized feuding, together with between Gaudí and the couple. The couple was ultimately fined by town authorities as a result of Gaudí constructed a home that was bigger than allowed by its constructing allow.
Ms. Segimon, who died in 1964, outlived her husband and bought La Pedrera to an actual property firm. Another architect then reworked the highest ground, which had been a laundry room, into extra rental flats.
Ms. Viladomiu has one of many few left. In March, she revealed a ebook, “The Last Neighbor,” about the history of the building, as well as the experience of occupying an apartment in one of the jewels of Gaudí’s Modernist style of architecture.
An added bonus, she said, is that her rent has not risen significantly in over three decades, even as the tourism value of La Pedrera has rocketed.
“Paying what I pay to live in such an extraordinary place in the heart of Barcelona, I would be very silly to move anywhere else,” she said, without revealing the exact cost of her rent.
Tourists pay 22 euros, or about $25, to visit La Pedrera, but that includes access to only part of the building, including one of the apartments he designed.
Still, intrepid visitors have sometimes overstepped the boundaries, forcing Ms. Viladomiu to add a barrier outside her apartment, to keep tourists at bay.
Before, she said, “there were people ringing my doorbell constantly, wanting to take a look inside my home.”
Occasionally, Ms. Viladomiu opened her front door to strangers. “When I have seen some tourists approach who looked interesting to me, I’ve shown them my apartment,” she said.
Ms. Viladomiu likens her experience to living on the set of “Big Brother,” the reality television show, photographed by tourists whenever she steps out onto her balcony and monitored by security cameras and smoke detectors she has sometimes inadvertently set off while cooking her dinner. “But it’s of course the ‘Big Brother of our World Heritage,’” she added.
Nowadays, Gaudí is at the heart of Barcelona’s tourism offering, and efforts are continuing to highlight his works. The most ambitious project concerns his unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia basilica, which was only about a quarter built at the time Gaudí died.
This month, the city authorities finally delivered a permit to allow the works to proceed, in a bid to complete the building in 2026, which would coincide with the centenary of Gaudí’s death. Two years ago, the first house that Gaudí built in Barcelona, Casa Vicens, was transformed into a museum.
Barcelona’s current love affair with Gaudí contrasts with the relative disinterest shown toward his works in the 1980s, when La Pedrera was last put up for sale and struggled to attract a buyer.
Eventually, Caixa de Catalunya, a bank, paid 900 million pesetas, equivalent to $6.2 million, to buy the building in 1986. The bank’s foundation then renovated La Pedrera and opened it to tourists, while offering to pay off the tenants to move out.
In addition to Ms. Viladomiu, a few other tenants also refused the foundation’s offer. Two of them still reside in the building, but they would not be interviewed.
Gaudí included features in La Pedrera that were novelties at the time, like an elevator and running water in each apartment. La Pedrera was also one of the first houses in Barcelona to have an underground garage, with 16 spaces where residents could park either their motor vehicle or their horse carriage. The garage has now become an auditorium.
But Ms. Viladomiu also pointed out some aspects of Gaudí’s design that showed how he prioritized aesthetics, including his extensive use of curved surfaces.
“You can almost forget installing a bookshelf, because there isn’t a single straight wall here,” she said. “Gaudí had very clear ideas and a very strong personality, which you just have to respect in order to live here.”
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