After an initial phase of construction work to rebuild Spain and erect the prominent symbols of the regime, the State came up against a housing problem, in city and country, in the 1950s. In the major cities a high percentage of the population lived without decent minimum conditions and with serious sanitation issues that would become an important source of insalubrity, whereas rural living posed other challenges stemming chiefly from the disrupted Republican agrarian reform.
Franco’s agrarian policy returned land occupied by the Republic to its former owners, part of which went to the National Institute of Colonisation, with its predominantly productivist aim, in accordance with the precarious situation of the country’s food supply. In this context, the construction of new settlements was deemed necessary to house many settlers working on the land. The most conspicuous proposals included the designs for Vegaviana and Villalba de Calatrava by José Luis Fernández del Amo, and Esquivel, a work by Alejandro de la Sota. Both drew from vernacular tradition while presenting indisputably modern architecture. In the framework of this drive towards rural Spain, the Feria del Campo (Country Fair) was held in Madrid from 1950 onwards, and with a complex designed by Jaime Ruiz and Francisco de Asís Cabrero, manifesting a predominant aesthetic of modernity made from traditional systems of construction.
Equally, the city would bear witness to architecture’s evolution retrieved by a new generation of professionals aware of international developments. In this period, Madrid would undergo huge demographic growth, propelling the construction of new social housing settlements and towns directed at the behest of the National Housing Institute. The project by Íñiguez de Onzoño and Vázquez de Castro for Caño Roto stands out in this respect. These new population clusters required numerous facilities and of note was the religious centre — another similar example is the Nuestra Señora de Fuencisla church by José María García de Paredes.
In Barcelona, the School of Architects from Catalonia and the Balearic Islands opened a project tender to solve the affordable housing problem in the city. Francesc Mitjans, Antoni Moragas, Antoni Perpinyà, Josep Maria Sostres and Raimón Tort won with a proposal that created new housing types based on statistical studies, resulting in the founding of Grupo R, a symbol of the recovery of modernity in post-war Catalan architecture and continued in the projects of José Antonio Coderch and Manuel Valls with the La Maquinista housing units and the complex designed for L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.
As always, the jubilant architecture of the regime gained prominence through Francisco de Asís Cabrero’s project in homage to Calvo Sotelo in 1955, clearly influenced by Max Bill.