José Antonio Coderch, 1913-1984

Mediterranean Essence

Josep Maria Montaner 

A hundred years after his birth, we have to look not only at Coderch’s works, but at the cultural milieu surrounding them. José Antonio Coderch de Sentmenat (1913-1984) was part of Grup R but left it relatively soon, and became a member of Team X. This shows to what degree he was the most internationally recognized Catalan architect in the 1950s.

The new internationalization process of Catalan architecture began when the likes of Alberto Sartoris (1949), Bruno Zevi (1950) and Nikolaus Pevsner (1952) lectured in Barcelona and made an impression on young architects. In the early 1950s the major influences came from Scandinavian empiricism and organicism on one hand, and Italian realism on the other. Coderch, who had studied at the Barcelona School of Architecture – where he graduated in 1940, after an interruption imposed by the Spanish Civil War –, was among the leaders of the return to the critical orientation of modern architecture, which gradually overtook the classicisms and picturesque preferences of the early Francoist years. But Coderch was not just an avant-garde in peninsular architecture. He was also that in relation to the protagonists of European architecture of the 1950s and 1960s, such as Gio Ponti, Ernesto N. Rogers, Aldo van Eyck or Alison and Peter Smithson, differing from them in his rejection of theorization and in his radical pragmatism...

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