- Architecture in Spain is an area of great complexity, exemplifying the idiosyncrasies of each region and their distinctive histories, rather than displaying common national characteristics. While Andalusia and the Basque country, for example, are both autonomous regions within present-day Spain, they differ fundamentally in their history and their aspirations, which inevitably is reflected in their architecture. The term "Spanish architecture" therefore covers a wide range of diverse styles, something which is as true now as it was in previous centuries. Any attempt to describe a common heritage immediately raises questions about the dominance of the centre, especially Madrid, over the peripheral regions, which often have a more clearly defined character. Undoubtedly, examples of state architecture such as the late sixteenthcentury monastery/palace of El Escorial by Juan de Herrera, a typical symbol of centralized power, exercise a pervasive influence all over Spain, but their impact on the evolution of Andalusian cities like Seville or Cordoba is marginal. Here, the Moorish inheritance is too deeply rooted and cherished for it to be obliterated by others. On the contrary, the hybrid mudéjar style, based on Moorish architecture, which evolved in Andalusia under the conquistadores, became a source of inspiration for the whole of the Iberian peninsula. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, neomudéjar became very widespread throughout Spain, offering, as it were, a kind of home-grown exoticism. Catalan Modernism offers some splendid examples: Gaudí and Jujol too gave their seal of approval to neo-mudéjar. The regions bordering the Pyrenees (Catalonia, Aragon, Navarre and the Basque country) have a very rich heritage of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, and the historicist revivals of the late nineteenth century successfully exploited this source. Gothic is very evident in Galicia in the famous pilgrim centre of Santiago de Compostela, and in Castille, Valencia, Ciudad Real and Asturias. Andalusia has its Moorish and mudéjar architecture, but is also the home of the best examples of plateresco, a Spanish variant of renaissance style, characterized by particularly elaborate decoration of the facades.Towards the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, the whole of Spain, especially the north, was affected by the changes brought about by industrialization. All the large cities acquired railway stations, some notable examples being at Valencia and Toledo, the Estación de Francia in Barcelona, the Estación de Atocha in Madrid and the Plaza de Armas in Seville. Elegant covered markets were also built in Barcelona, Valencia and Seville. Public architecture was either art nouveau or an eclectic blend of the main European styles: Catalonia, for example, was deeply influenced by the local variant of art nouveau, Catalan Modernism. In the late 1920s two contrasting trends began to appear in Spanish architecture. One derived from the European movement towards modernity exemplified by Walter Gropius or Le Corbusier. This trend was well represented in the Barcelona International Exhibition of 1929, which featured the most typical symbol of this tendency, the German pavilion by Mies van der Rohe. From this there developed, extending during the following years to Madrid and San Sebastián, a movement associated with the GATEPAC group around José Luis Sert. By contrast, in this same year, Seville took a different path with the Ibero- American Exhibition. The complex consisting of the Parque María Luisa, the national pavilions and the Plaza de España was a splendidly successful exploitation of local traditions and the Andalusian architectural heritage. This expression of regionalism owed a great deal of its effectiveness to Aníbal González as well as to the participation of the celebrated French garden designer, Forestier. A comparable approach was adopted by Victor Eusa in Navarre, Rafael Masó and Francesc Folguera in Catalonia (creators of S'Agaró, a very successful garden-city on the Catalan coast) and Giménez Lacal, Cendoya and Anasagasti in Andalusia (responsible for the Carmen de Rodríguez-Acosta in Granada). Original creative architecture came to a complete halt during the Civil War (1936–9). In the immediate aftermath, resources were scarce and the style subsequently favoured by the dictatorship was not noted for refinement. But gradually this official architecture improved under the influence of Italian "fascist" architecture, while overall a certain relaxation of the climate allowed some very interesting projects to emerge, despite the relative isolation and apathy. It was during the post-war years that Coderch, one of the great figures of Spanish architecture, began to make his mark in Barcelona, together with other leading figures such as Moragas or Sostres. In Madrid, de la Sota began to create works of great importance, followed a few years later by Sáenz de Oiza, who revitalized the concept of monumental architecture. In Barcelona the intellectual debate on architectural issues was stimulated by the Grupo R, active in the 1950s and including among others Sostres, Coderch, Moragas and the young Bohigas who was to become one of the most notable influences on Catalan architecture. In fact it was Bohigas who was to redefine the bases of architectural policy in Catalonia after the end of the dictatorship (1976).In the 1970s it was above all in Barcelona that trends were being set, and young teams of architects were becoming known. As well as a marked influence of Italian Design there was the impact of Interiorism, and the appeal of the neoclassical and a well-grounded rationalist school. All this created an architectural scene of great diversity, which, with the approach of the 1990s, was intensified by the huge amount of construction activity necessitated by the Olympic games of 1992.In the last years of the dictatorship Rafael Moneo, soon to become a leading name in Spanish architecture after 1975, began to practise in Madrid. Moneo's very varied output displays great flair for monumental projects, as well as refinement, simplicity and erudition. The transformation which he wrought in the Atocha railway station is a measure of his talent. Also in Madrid, Navarro Baldeweg introduced an interesting element of plasticity with his complex architectural creations.In the 1980s and 1990s the Basque country and Navarre pursued their own distinctive paths, characterized by greater attachment to traditional architectural values, and the use of forms deriving from historic styles: the leading names here are Iñíguez, Ustarroz, Linazasoro and Garay. In Andalusia, the most notable architectural projects after 1985 are concentrated in Seville and Cadiz. The predominant taste among the leading contemporary Andalusian architects is heavily influenced by the Portuguese Alvaro Siza, creator in the 1990s of a remarkable Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago in Galicia. This approach involves a re-interpretation of the kind of architectural expression characteristic of the historic avant-garde (Mies, Le Corbusier etc.) which is stripped down to its essentials. It is a very pure architecture, of striking white shapes, represented mainly by Antonio Cruz, Antonio Ortiz and Guillermo Vásquez Consuegra. As coincidence would have it, Seville and Barcelona both witnessed major events in 1929 and in 1992, when Barcelona's Olympics were matched by Seville's Expo-92. The event stimulated a large number of projects: in addition to the spectacular modernization of the whole urban infrastructure, there were noteworthy new buildings, some of them designed by internationally renowned architects: for example, the new Santa Justa railway station, by Cruz and Ortiz.In Valencia, the 1980s saw the appearance of a great architect on the international scene, Santiago Calatrava. He was in some respects a successor to Candela, an excellent architectengineer who left his country for Mexico after the Civil War. Calatrava is the creator of a considerable number of large-scale projects of astonishing structural inventiveness, and is the Spanish architect best known abroad, with prestige buildings in France, Germany and other countries.Architectural criticism is a development principally of the 1990s, if one excepts the writings of Rafols and Cirici Pellicer, and the impressive activity in this field of Oriol Bohigas. The most noteworthy critics are Sola-Morales, Montaner, Fernández Galiano, Lluis Permanyer and Llatzer Moix. The best-known specialized journals are El Croquis, Quaderns, Architectura Viva, On and Diseño Interior.Further reading- El Croquis (1985–95) Madrid.- Gombrich, E. (1972) Histoire de l'Art, Paris: Flammarion.- Loyer, F. (1991) L'art nouveau en Catalogne, Paris: Biblio. Arts, Le Septième Fou.- Moldoveanu, M. (1996) Barcelona: Architectures of Exuberance, Barcelona: Lunwerg (an overview of different periods and styles, richly illustrated with photographs by the author).- Progressive Architecture (1993) New York, July 1993.- Rubió i Tuduri, N. (1927), Diàlegs sobre l'arquitectura, Barcelona: Cuadernos- Zabalbeascoa, A. (1992) The New Spanish Architecture, New York: RizzoliMIHAIL MOLDOVEANU
Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.