C A N T A B R I A   U N I V E R S I T Y
Modern Age
19th century
Picturesqueness and Regionalism
From Rationalism to Present-Day
City Map
The Twentieth Century: from Rationalism to Present-Day Architecture.  
    Siboney building   Breaking off this backward gaze to the past, Rationalism reached Spain in 1925. Rationalism rejected the classical and regionalist traditions in its longing for a renovation of form that would solve current problems: urban agglomeration, the pursuit of comfort, population growth. More than a new style it was a new conception of architecture: seeing its task as a practical issue and building adequate low-cost housing. Lower ceilings, unadorned straight-lined buildings were its features, the structure itself of the building serving as its ornament. Thus, along the waterfront and in the ensanche there appeared rationalist buildings, showing that Santander adhered to this trend; the Marítimo Club, the Siboney building and the Ateneo Popular are good examples of Cantabrian rationalism.

Architecture after the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) shows the confluence of a rationalist legacy and the traditionalist discourse of official postwar architecture. The reconstruction of Santander after the 1941 fire gave rise to clear examples of the nationalistic classicism that resulted. Postwar Spain's architectural theory is manifest in the church of St Francis (1940) by Javier González Riancho. This building carried a considerable ideological charge, as its original had been knocked down quite in the middle of the Civil War -so its re-instatement signified a redressing of the balance. It is, as it only could be, a Herreresque project, symbolising things Spanish, Catholicism, and Empire.

Since the 1950's the crisis of historicism grew apace, and a partial opening-up to international trends developed. In the 1970's Santander was integrated fully into the diverse international scene. As a final step on this tour of the architecture of Santander, one might remark on the Festival Palacedesigned by Javier Sainz de Oíza (project date: 1984). As a prime example of postmodernism, it makes free and ironic use of the symbols of the history of architecture.

Ateneo Popular
Festival Palace
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