b-guided > Barcelona

Grup R, Architecture, Art and Design

By Brian Gallagher 17.02.14

This exhibition at MACBA examines a fascinating period in Barcelona’s architectural and design history, the arrival of modernity as we know it today during the 1950s. The extraordinary social upheaval that Europe experienced after WW2 arrived in Spain somewhat later than its neighbouring countries. The practical problems faced by the Barcelona at the end of the 40s and the curiosity of a younger generation of designers regarding developments abroad encouraged local architects to reassess Mediterranean architecture rejecting the official formal classicism of the Franco regime rediscovering publications such as AC. Documentos de Actividad Contemporánea which featured the language of modernity happening elsewhere. At this time architects such as Francesc Mitjans (b-guided #11), José  Antonio Corderch and Josep Maria Sostres were already exploring more rationalist architectural expressions through their designs.  

In 1949 an exhibition was held in Barcelona’s Salón del Tinell on the occasion of the Asamblea Nacional de Arquitectos which highlighted the work of contemporary architects working in South and Central America. Invited architect Gio Ponti discovered the work of José Antonio Coderch and subsequently invited him to design the Spanish pavilion at the Trienal de Milán in 1951, thus introducing his work to both a national and international audience. Against this back drop architects like Antoni de Moragas, Antoni Perpinyà, Josep Antoni Balcells, Josep Maria Sostres and Ramon Tort joined forces to participate in architectural competitions being held by the city council for the provision of social housing. Their winning approach was to analyse the urban and economical conditions necessary rather than simply proposing a built solution.

    Hotel Park, Barcelona. Antoni de Moragas. 1950-53. Photo Francesc Català-Roca. © Fons Fotogràfic F. Català – Roca – Arxiu Fotogràfic de l’Arxiu Històric del Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya

  • 2nd. Exhibition Grup R “Industry and Architecture”. Galeries Laietanes, 1954. Designed by Ricard Giralt Miracle. 1954. Filograf. Fons Grup R. Arxiu Històric del Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya

    These architects together with Oriol Bohigas, Josep Maria Martorell, Joaquim Gili y Josep Pratmarsó, José Antonio Coderch and Manuel Valls formed Group R in 1951 (the r standing for Renovación and Recuperación). Later this group would be joined by Manuel Ribas, Josep Antoni Balcells, Francesc Bassó, Guillermo Giráldez, Pau Montguió and Francesc Vayreda. Their activities included the organisation of exhibitions to promote both their work and the relationship between architecture and industry. They also organised seminars regarding economics, sociology and urbanism. One of the most important aspects of the group was its involvement with the magazine Cuadernos de Arquitectura, the Colegio de Arquitectos and the creation of the FAD awards and subsequently the ADI-FAD awards (which recognised excellence in the architectural and industrial design sectors).  

  • Gustavo Gili Publishers. Barcelona. Francesc Bassó; Joaquim Gili.1954-1961. Photo Francesc Català-Roca. © Fons Fotogràfic F. Català–Roca – Arxiu Fotogràfic de l’Arxiu Històric del Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya

    This exhibition traces the influence of the group on production within the arts in Barcelona; photography, design, graphics etc. as well as the symbiotic relationship with international groups including Team X. At the end of the 1950s when modernity itself is under threat the group splinters and transmutes into something else. For almost an entire decade however some of Barcelona’s most avant-garde buildings and interiors (many photographed through the lens of Francesc Català-Roca) were inspired by Grup R.

  • Eudald Serra. Photo Francesc Català-Roca © Fons Fotogràfic F. Català–Roca – Arxiu Fotogràfic de l’Arxiu Històric del Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya

  • Guardiola House. Argentona, Barcelona. Oriol Bohigas;  Josep Ma. Martorell. 1954-1955. Photo Francesc Català-Roca. © Fons Fotogràfic F. Català–Roca – Arxiu Fotogràfic de l’Arxiu Històric del Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya

  • The Gaudí Exhibition at the Saló del Tinell curated by Josep Ma. Sostres & Oriol Bohigas & Joan Prats. Barcelona, 1956. © Fons Fotogràfic F. Català – Roca – Arxiu Fotogràfic de l’Arxiu Històric del Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya

  • 2nd. Grup R Exhibition “Industry and Architecture”. Galeries Laietanes, 1954. Designed by Ricard Giralt Miracle. 1954. Filograf. Fons Grup R. Arxiu Històric del Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya

  • Lamp. 1st Prize special design competition held by FAD “Dignificación del hogar popular”. Antoni de Moragas. 1954. Foto Francesc Català-Roca. © Fons Fotogràfic F. Català – Roca – Arxiu Fotogràfic de l’Arxiu Històric del Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya

  • From 05 February to 24 June
  • MACBA
  • Plaza dels Angels, 1 08001 Barcelona
  • www.macba.cat