Spain is renowned for beautiful architecture, rising out of the hot European heat. The influences are broad – from Iberian ornamentation to Hispanic detailing dating back to the Roman era. More recently, the angular beauty and vibrant colors of modernism and postmodernism have nestled among the historic structures to create a skyline with a distinct chronology of architecture. Culture Trip takes a look at ten Spanish architects to watch right now.
Valencia based Fran Silvestre Arquitectos creates buildings of purity and light. The modulated form of Casa del Acantilado, Alicante, resembles a cubic cloud hanging in the air about the cliff. A cantilevered living space with a sea view, traditional Mediterranean white exteriors and azure infinity pool ensure this building will never intrude. The minimalist surfaces of sunlit white, glass and water merge the peaceful serenity of this human integration with the cliff itself.
Ramón Fernández-Alonso Y Asociados aimed for an intimacy of architecture in the composition, light and texture of the Teacher Training Center, Granada. A great glass box is given new life by a terracotta ‘ceramaic skin’ that embraces the architecture and the people within. White minimalist interiors and strong cantilevering float the structure producing an atmosphere that can only be described as ethereal.
Musician and architect Jesús Torres García creates buildings of harmony, melody and elegance. Non Program Pavillion, located in Salobreña, not far from the Mediterranean, has been described “as a flower, as a natural fact.” The pavillion is seamlessly integrated into the field in which it stands – as if it grew there. The wood cladding and organic curves of the building lend warmth and familiarity as if returning home to family after a hard day of work.
The dynamic architecture of Coll Barreu is exemplified in Basque Health Department Headquarters. The crystalline facets reflect the surrounding streets from multiple viewpoints. The rhythmic interplay of space and void along with the transient play of light on the surfaces, embody the innovation of the building while harking back to the heritage of Spanish art and the work of Picasso and Braque.
Cloud 9 Architecture explores themes of utopia and reality with new technology and sensitivity. The futuristic Media TIC embraces the “performative dimension of architecture.” The building exists in a world of its own with the rhythms of colour, texture and space held in reality by the geometry of the patterned surface. These surfaces are also a revolutionary development of technology, acting as a sunscreen in summer and opening in the winter to engage with natural light.
A blend of Le Corbusier and Spanish minimalism, A-cero Architects create personal architecture and imposing structures for domestic spaces. Vivienda 1001is a rhythm of curves and rectilinear planes. From somewhere between nuclear bunker and zen garden, the building is austere yet tranquil with its calming dance of form and space. After dark the building is lit up in shades of lime, orange and magenta, playing on the undulating surfaces.
Dosmasuno Arquitectos create modulated buildings with their own personality. The Theme and Variations of Architecture, 102 Viviendas explores the relationship of projecting and receding forms. It is said that the rooms drift out of the building as clouds drift across the sky. 102 Viviendas helps to rebrand mass-housing as a place of harmony, a place of eloquence and a place of living.
The architecture of Francisco Mangado thrives on the tension between service and submission. Municipal Auditorium of Teluda is a perfect example of a functional building that still makes a statement. The dark folds of the roof and are reversed in the white interior and bring contrast to the regularity of the triangular pillars at ground level. This auditorium is a graphic score of the music it contains, with punctuating rhythms of windows and varying pitches of surfaces.
Seville based AF6 Arquitectos demonstrate a sensitivity to old and new rarely seen in architecture today. Centro Cerámica Triana, was developed on an old pottery factory in Sevilla. The modern building engages with and respects the older work with its honest bricks and smoke stained surfaces. The otherwise plain exterior is hung with steel grids containing a plethora of terracotta circlular forms, providing spontaneity and fun on the former industrial site.
Architects of surprise, the buildings of MiAS Architects are always a little bit different. Torre Baró Collective Housing is a distortion of the traditional concrete tower block. Slanting walls and bulging forms belie the dramatic creativity of the architects. It is not until the central courtyard is reached however, that the full impact of the building is understood. A monumental light well painted in vivid hot pink lies at the heart of the building, completing it as a work of startling elegant architecture.
By Tamsin Nicholson
Tamsin Nicholson is currently studying Art History in Glasgow. With the Royal Naval Reserves, she sails to off-the-beaten track costal locations. Her keen interest in art and culture has taken her through Europe by train and across the Atlantic. Find her doing tours of Glasgow Cathedral.