Spanish architecture, enriched by various influential architects, has seen significant contributions from key figures. Antoni Gaudí, a central figure in Catalan Modernism, is famous for his unique style and iconic buildings in Barcelona, such as the Sagrada Familia. Santiago Calatrava is known for blending architecture and engineering, evident in structures like Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences. Rafael Moneo is appreciated for integrating modern and historical elements and designing the Prado Museum extension in Madrid. Ricardo Bofill’s postmodern approach is showcased in his redevelopment of old structures like La Fábrica in Barcelona. Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Other notable architects are Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Enric Miralles, Alejandro de la Sota, Félix Candela, Secundino Zuazo, Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza, Julio Cano Lasso, Alberto Campo Baeza, Carlos Ferrater, Francisco Mangado, Rafael de La-Hoz, Josep Maria Jujol, Elías Torres, and Jose Antonio Coderch’s work includes the Casa Ugalde and Casa de la Marina, showcasing a distinct Catalan modernism. These architects, through their diverse styles and innovative designs, have significantly shaped Spanish architecture, leaving a legacy that continues to influence the field both in Spain and globally.
1. Antoni Gaudí
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was a famous Spanish architect born on June 25, 1852, in Reus, Catalonia, Spain. Gaudí lived and worked almost entirely in Barcelona, catalyzing his career with innovative building projects that transformed the city. Gaudí was from the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia. He was born into a family of coppersmiths and grew up immersed in Catalan art, crafts, and culture, which profoundly influenced his architectural style. His formal education was at the Barcelona Provincial School of Architecture, followed by the Barcelona Higher School of Architecture, where he obtained his degree in architecture in 1878. He died tragically on June 10, 1926, at age 73, after being struck by a tram in Barcelona.
Antoni Gaudí became known as the most prominent representative of Catalan Modernism, also referred to as Modernisme. This movement sought to revive Catalan art, architecture, and cultural identity. Gaudí developed an eclectic, highly individualized style characterized by creativity and freedom of form, expressive use of color and texture, and an organic unity drawing inspiration from nature. He masterfully blended traditional Catalan design with influences from Gothic, Islamic, Orientalist, Arts & Crafts, Symbolist, Expressionist and Rationalist styles. His innovative use of stone, brick, iron, stained glass, and ceramics further distinguished his visionary aesthetic.
In 1910, Gaudí displayed a solo showcase of his work, including photographs, plans, and scale models, at an exhibition organized by the Société des Beaux-Arts in Paris. As Gaudí worked almost exclusively in Barcelona, his career produced acclaimed masterpieces that utterly transformed the city, including Park Güell, the epic La Sagrada Familia basilica, the surreal Casa Milà and Casa Batlló apartments, the regal Palau Güell and the rebuilt Casa Vicens townhouse. His vision redefined Barcelona’s cityscape into a top tourist destination now renowned for Gaudí’s architectural marvels. Seven of Gaudí’s Barcelona buildings have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in recognition of their outstanding universal value.
2. Santiago Calatrava
Santiago Calatrava Valls is a famous Spanish architect, engineer, and sculptor born on July 28, 1951, in Benimámet, an old municipality now integrated into Valencia in eastern Spain. He studied architecture at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, completing his degree in 1974. He then pursued postgraduate studies in civil engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, Switzerland, receiving his doctorate in 1981. Santiago Calatrava was born in the Valencia region of eastern Spain and maintains strong connections to his native country. However, he has resided mainly in Zürich, Switzerland, since 1981, when he founded his firm after completing his postgraduate civil engineering studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. Over his career, he opened offices in Paris, Valencia, and New York City, designing significant projects across Europe and worldwide.
Calatrava has become famous for his bridging of structural engineering and architecture, merging technical expertise with an artistic, sculptural aesthetic. His distinctive style reflects various influences from Spanish modernist engineering traditions to modern architecture while being deeply personal and inspired by in-depth studies of the human form and natural world. He masterfully integrates engineering to enable innovatively dramatic buildings and bridges, with creativity and freedom of form characteristic of his work. One of Calatrava’s most essential works in France is the Lyon–Saint-Exupéry TGV Station (1989-1994) at the Lyon airport. The building resembles a bird in flight, with huge arcing steel frames suggesting wings that seem ready to take off.
Other significant projects Santiago Calatrava has created in France include the Alamillo Bridge (1987-1992) for the Seville Expo ’92 in Spain, connecting the Spanish and French sides of the event site across the Meandro San Jeronimo River. His Pont de l’Europe bridge (1996) in Orléans also exemplifies his characteristic movement style and technical innovation through design.
3. Rafael Moneo
José Rafael Moneo Vallés is an acclaimed Spanish architect born on May 9, 1937, in Tudela, a small town in northern Spain. After studying architecture at the Superior Technical School of Architecture of Madrid (ETSAM), he furthered his training at the Spanish Academy in Rome before returning to establish his architecture practice in Madrid in 1965. In 1965, he established his architecture firm in Madrid, where he has been based for most of his career while working on significant projects across Spain, Europe, and internationally. Now age 86, Moneo continues practicing and remains actively involved in teaching as the first Josep Lluís Sert Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Moneo is known for sophisticated, contextual designs integrating modern and historical architectural elements. Avoiding set “types,” his buildings instead respond sensitively to the specific physical and cultural environments they inhabit. Through carefully crafted details and spaces, they engage viewers to appreciate subtle historical references while conveying a contemporary aesthetic aligned with their functional purpose. One of his most famous projects in France is the 2001 extension of the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain. The addition’s modern forms complement the historic museum while creating spacious new underground galleries bathed in gentle natural light.
Other notable projects in France include the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College (1993) and the Kursaal Auditorium and Conference Center (1999) in San Sebastian, Spain. The Kursaal’s gleaming glass cubes overlook the beach and elegantly reflect the project’s seaside setting. Both buildings exemplify his contextual approach and artistic expressiveness within surrounding environments.
4. Ricardo Bofill
Ricardo Bofill Leví was an acclaimed Spanish architect born in Barcelona, Spain, on December 5, 1939. He received his architectural education at the Barcelona School of Architecture but was expelled for his Marxist political views during the regime of dictator Francisco Franco. Bofill then studied at the University Institute of Architecture in Venice, Italy, before founding his firm, Taller de Arquitectura, in 1963. Based primarily in Barcelona for his prolific career spanning over 50 years, Bofill passed away on January 14, 2022, at age 82, in his lifelong home city.
Ricardo Bofill pioneered a very idiosyncratic postmodern style of architecture infused with utopian ambitions for social progress. Heavily inspired by vernacular Mediterranean architecture and North African elements, his designs brought sci-fi futurism to Spanish architecture. Bold colors, massively scaled neoclassical forms arranged in unusual ways, and unique adaptations of materials created a surrealistic and fantastical effect. He embraced this individualism partly in reaction to the rigid political and cultural climate under the Franco dictatorship.
One of Bofill’s greatest and most defining accomplishments in France was the large-scale housing developments he designed for Parisian suburbs in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The monumental Antigone district in Montpellier, constructed from 1978-1995, featured immense neoclassical structures surrounding grand public plazas on an almost totalitarian scale. They cemented his reputation and influence. Critics saw them as the “architectural signature of the 1980s” in France and an epitome of postmodernism’s excessive tendencies when used for social housing schemes. In addition to the colossal Antigone project in Montpellier, other significant works Bofill created in France include the housing complex Le Viaduc (1985) in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and the housing estate Les Arcades du Lac (1982).
5. Lluís Domènech i Montaner
Lluís Domènech i Montaner was a Catalan architect born in Barcelona, Spain, on December 21, 1850. He studied physics and natural sciences before switching to architecture, earning his architecture degree from the Barcelona Higher School of Architecture in 1873. Domènech i Montaner lived his whole life in Barcelona, teaching architecture at the Barcelona School of Architecture for 45 years and working prolifically as an architect until his death on December 27, 1923, at age 73. As a prominent figure in the Catalan Renaixença cultural revival movement, his architectural style strongly reflected Catalan cultural identity and traditions. He helped define Catalan Modernisme architecture through his distinctive and expressive buildings incorporating local arts, crafts, and materials.
Domènech i Montaner pioneered the Catalan Modernisme style, which blended modern construction techniques with vivid colors, textures, and forms drawn from natural motifs, Catalan traditions, and Spanish-Arabic elements. His designs aimed to create an organic synthesis of structure, aesthetics, and function reflecting the cultural heritage.
One of Domènech i Montaner’s most significant architectural achievements was his role in defining and disseminating Catalan Modernisme architecture to a broader audience through the pavilions he created for Barcelona’s 1888 Universal Exposition. His fierce, colorfully ornamented Germanic-Moorish designs for the Castell dels Tres Dragons restaurant and the Hotel International introduced novel architectural ideas that shaped Catalan buildings in later years. The event set the stage for luminaries like Gaudí while spotlighting Domènech i Montaner’s essential place in Catalonia’s architectural revolution.
Domènech i Montaner worked almost exclusively around his native Barcelona, his Café-Restaurant building for Barcelona’s 1888 Universal Exposition was instrumental in catalyzing the internationally known Catalan Modernisme architecture over subsequent decades.
6. Alonso Cano
Alonso Cano Almansa was a Spanish painter, sculptor, and architect born in Granada, Spain, on March 19, 1601. He studied architecture under his father, Miguel Cano, painting at the studio of Juan del Castillo, and sculpture with Juan Martínez Montañés. Cano lived and worked in Granada, Seville, Madrid, and Valencia over his prolific career before returning to Granada, where he passed away on September 3, 1667, at age 66. He remains thoroughly Spanish, given his birth and death in Granada and his lifetime spent creating art and architecture across Spain.
Cano was an accomplished painter and sculptor. His style reflects Italian and Spanish influences blended with his dramatic flair, seen in sculptural works like his evocative wooden statue of the Immaculate Conception and more emotive religious paintings created later in his career. Cano excelled equally across multiple creative disciplines, leading to his epithet as “the Spanish Michelangelo.” One of Alonso Cano’s most remarkable architectural feats was designing the ornate Baroque facade of the Granada Cathedral in 1667, one of Spanish architecture’s boldest and most original façades. The façade design was a testament to Cano’s brilliant versatility as it creatively synthesized Italian and Spanish aesthetics with his sculptural eye. He did not live to oversee its final construction, which was completed following his original plans after his death.
Other critical architectural works by Cano within Spain include his minimal yet striking design for the Chapel of San Miguel in Seville’s Church of St. Isabel (1628-1636). Cano also displayed his range as a sculptor through polychrome wood carvings like his masterful Immaculate Conception statue for the Granada Cathedral’s sacristy in 1655, as well as other depictions of saints and biblical figures across Seville and Granada.
7. Juan de Herrera
Juan de Herrera was an eminent Spanish Renaissance architect born in 1530 in Mobellán in Cantabria, Spain. He studied architecture at the University of Valladolid, completing his education there in 1548. Herrera worked extensively across Spain, especially on royal architectural projects, before passing away in Madrid on January 15, 1597. He worked on essential buildings across different cities in Spain, such as Madrid, Seville, and Valladolid. Herrera remains thoroughly Spanish, given both his place of birth and the fact that the sober, minimalist styles he pioneered through structures like the El Escorial monastery came to epitomize architecture across the 16th-century Spanish Empire under the Habsburgs. Juan de Herrera was well-versed in mathematics, geometry, and astronomy. This background informed his distinctive architectural style, which is defined by clean lines, mathematical precision, and simplicity rather than overt ornamentation. His aesthetic came to be known as the Herrera style, which was highly influential across Spain and its territories during this period. One of Herrera’s seminal achievements as an architect in Spain was completing the El Escorial monastery and palace complex outside Madrid after the original architect Juan Bautista de Toledo died in 1567. His interventions set the tone for the austere Herrerian style that dominated Spanish architecture for decades and reflected the empire’s values.
Juan de Herrera designed several other vital buildings across Spain. Some key works include early additions to the royal Alcázar palace in Madrid, initial constructions for the royal site at Aranjuez outside the capital, and the design of the Plaza Mayor public square in central Madrid. His late-career Cathedral of Valladolid reflected his mathematical sensibilities and became a model for subsequent cathedrals built in Spanish territories like Mexico and Peru that brought his influence overseas.
8. Josep Puig i Cadafalch
Josep Puig i Cadafalch was an eminent Catalan architect born on October 17, 1867, in Mataró, Spain. He studied architecture and natural sciences in Barcelona before becoming the Municipal Architect of his hometown, Mataró, after graduating in 1893. Puig i Cadafalch worked extensively as an architect across Spain, especially in Catalonia, while serving as a politician and art historian until his death on December 21, 1956, at age 89 in Barcelona.
Josep Puig i Cadafalch studied mathematics, physics, and other natural sciences in Barcelona. This background in exact sciences informed his precise, geometrical approach to architecture. He was appointed professor of architectural design and construction materials at the Barcelona School of Architecture in his mid-20s due to his robust technical knowledge. Puig i Cadafalch combined this grounding in engineering principles with creativity and Catalan traditions.
One of Josep Puig i Cadafalch’s seminal achievements was defining and disseminating Catalan Modernisme architecture through the pavilions he created for Barcelona’s 1888 Universal Exposition. His dynamic neogothic-Moorish café and hotel buildings introduced innovative architectural ideas to the event’s international audience, shaping Barcelona’s subsequent architectural development. The Castell dels Tres Dragons is a striking relic of the transformative creative spirit Puig i Cadafalch unleashed through his Exposition works.
In addition to his famous 1888 Universal Exposition buildings, Puig i Cadafalch left an indelible architectural mark across Barcelona and beyond through other important works like the essence-of-Modernisme Palau de la Música concert hall, the medieval fantasy Casa de les Punxes, and the vast brick-and-iron complexes of the Codorníu Winery and Casaramona textile factory. He masterfully adapted cutting-edge structural techniques like iron framing and exposed brick to unleash inventive, culturally resonant buildings.
9. Enric Miralles
Enric Miralles Moya was an eminent Spanish architect born in Barcelona, Spain, on February 12, 1955. He studied architecture at the Barcelona School of Architecture, part of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), graduating in 1978. Enric Miralles later studied structural engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. Miralles worked extensively across Spain and internationally, co-founding several firms over his career, including Miralles/Pinós and EMBT Architects. He died suddenly on July 3, 2000, at age 45 in Barcelona.
His architectural style was influenced by culturally impactful Spanish and Catalan architects like Alejandro de la Sota and Antoni Gaudí. Miralles explored unique experimental forms often connected to the environment and created using unusual materials. His distinctive Spanish/Catalan approach pioneered new architectural languages while referencing place, traditions, and history. One of Enric Miralles’s most seminal architectural achievements was the famous Igualada Cemetery he designed with then-wife Carme Pinós, constructed near Barcelona between 1985-1994. Its flowing concrete walls and poetic land art forms created an entirely novel form of cemetery architecture that became a globally recognized landmark. Miralles is even buried there in tribute to his visionary design that reimagined notions of memorialization and death.
Other significant works Miralles created across Spain include the Parc Diagonal Mar park in Barcelona, the Huesca basketball arena with its signature inclined yellow beams, and the radio telescope at Yebes Observatory in Guadalajara. He also designed the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh, Scotland, before passing away in 2000, with his wife and partner Benedetta Tagliabue overseeing its posthumous completion according to his spectacular vision for the landmark complex.
10. Alejandro de la Sota
Alejandro de la Sota Martínez was an eminent Spanish architect born on October 20, 1913 in Pontevedra, Spain. He studied architecture at the Superior Technical School of Architecture in Madrid, graduating in 1941. De la Sota lived and worked in Madrid for most of his career. He served as a professor at the architecture school for 16 years and worked extensively on public and private architectural projects across Spain. He passed away on February 14, 1996, at age 82, in Madrid. His identity and background remained thoroughly Spanish, though his architectural style pioneered a pared-down, functionally expressive modernist aesthetic that stood out from traditional Spanish approaches of the era.
One of Alejandro de la Sota’s seminal achievements was the Government Building in Tarragona, constructed between 1954-57. Its clean lines and beautiful bare brickwork heralded a new era for Spanish architecture from the previous reliance on historicist styles. The building exemplified de la Sota’s “logical architecture” concept, which focused on rational functional expression and gave him great acclaim for reflecting core modernist values while retaining deep constructional integrity.
Other significant works by Alejandro de la Sota across Spain include the Maravillas Gym Building in Madrid (1961), the César Carlos University Residence in Madrid (1967), and the León Post & Telecommunications Building (1980-83), whose spare geometric forms embody his aesthetic of formal purity and technical precision—through his built works, writings, and teachings, de la Sota left an indelible mark on Spanish architecture from the mid-20th century onwards.
11. Felix Candela
Félix Candela Outeriño was a Spanish architect and engineer famous for developing thin-shell structures made of reinforced concrete, popularly known as Cascarones. He was born on January 27, 1910, in Madrid, Spain, and passed away on December 7, 1997, at 87, in Durham, North Carolina, United States. Félix Candela is from Spain and Mexico, having been born in Spain and becoming a naturalized Mexican citizen. Candela lived a significant part of his life in Mexico after emigrating there at 26 due to the Spanish Civil War, acquiring double nationality. He later moved to the United States, where he continued his career as a professor and became a U.S. citizen in 19781. Candela’s education began at La Escuela Superior de Arquitectura (Madrid Superior Technical School of Architecture), where he enrolled in 1927 and graduated in 1935. Following his graduation, he traveled to Germany to further study architecture.
Candela was recognized early on for his keen sense of geometry and descriptive geometric and trigonometric talent, which led him to assist professors and tutor other students. Félix Candela represented a type of architecture that focused on thin-shell structures, particularly those made of reinforced concrete. His work emphasized the geometric properties of these structures and their efficiency in eliminating tensile forces within the concrete. Candela’s approach often relied on the simplest means to solve structural problems rather than complex mathematical methods.
Candela’s great accomplishment in Spain was the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Madrid, which he designed with Enrique de La Mora y Palomar and Fernando Lopez Carmona. This work is part of his significant contribution to developing new structural concrete forms. Candela’s most essential jobs in Spain include the Church above of Our Lady of Guadalupe and L’Oceanogràfic in Valencia, Spain, which he worked on with architects José María Tomás Llavador and Félix Escrig Pallarés. These projects showcase his innovative use of thin-shell concrete structures and his lasting influence on architecture.
12. Secundino Zuazo
Secundino Zuazo Ugalde was a prominent Spanish architect and urban planner born in Bilbao, Spain, on May 21, 1887. He lived a significant part of his life in Madrid, where he completed his education and died on July 12, 1970. Zuazo’s career spanned a period marked by historicist romanticism, which influenced his early works, and later shifted towards rational architecture after his exposure to central European design principles. His life and career were notably affected by the Spanish Civil War, during which he had to flee to France and, upon his return to Spain, faced imprisonment.
Secundino Zuazo’s architecture evolved from an initial inclination towards traditional architecture to a rationalist approach influenced by his travels in the Netherlands and other parts of central Europe. His work became characterized by functionalism and a keen interest in collective housing projects to improve living conditions in Spanish cities. Zuazo’s architecture combined rationalist language with traditional Spanish elements, particularly suited to the Iberian climate. Zuazo’s great accomplishment in Spain was his contribution to urban planning and architecture, particularly in Madrid. His plan for the Comarca of Madrid and his project for extending the Paseo de la Castellana were significant in city planning.
Among Secundino Zuazo’s most essential works in Spain, the Nuevos Ministerios complex and the Casa de las Flores stand out. The Nuevos Ministerios, a project commissioned before the Civil War, was intended to house government ministries and featured innovative design elements such as an ample open space and several ponds. The Casa de las Flores, an apartment complex in Madrid’s Argüelles district, was revolutionary for its time, providing improved light, ventilation, and sanitary conditions, and is considered a pioneering work of architecture.
13. Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza
Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza was an eminent Spanish architect born on October 12, 1918, in Cáseda, Spain. He studied architecture at the Superior Technical School of Architecture in Madrid, graduating in 1946 with the best academic record in his class. In 1947, Sáenz de Oiza traveled to the United States on a fellowship from the Spanish Royal Academy of Fine Arts to further his architectural education. He lived and worked in Madrid for the rest of his career, serving as a professor at the architecture school for over 35 years. Sáenz de Oiza died on July 18, 2000, at 81, in Madrid.
Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza furthered his architectural education in the United States on a one-year fellowship from the Spanish Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1947-48. This immersion in American architecture influenced his subsequent modernist approach. He also served as a professor of architecture in Madrid for over 35 years, training many young Spanish architects. One of Sáenz de Oiza’s most seminal architectural achievements in Spain was his reinvention of religious architectural language through the dramatic open forms and abstract sculptural accents of the Sanctuary of Arantzazu in Oñati, Spain, in the early 1950s. It was designed by leading Basque sculptor Jorge Oteiza, the project won the prestigious Spanish National Architecture Prize in 1954. It announced Sáenz de Oiza as a pioneering creative force in Spanish architecture post-Civil War.
Some of Sáenz de Oiza’s other significant works in Spain include the Torres Blancas apartment building in Madrid (1967), the Banco de Bilbao Tower, also in Madrid (1981), and his graceful redesign of the Feria de Muestras exhibition grounds in Madrid (1987-91) where he masterfully adapted existing historicist pavilions into a cohesive, welcoming whole. Through these and other projects across Spain, his structural expressiveness and formal inventiveness left an indelible mark on Spanish architecture.
14. Julio Cano Lasso
Julio Cano Lasso was an eminent Spanish architect born in Madrid, Spain, on October 30, 1920. He studied architecture at the Superior Technical School of Architecture in Madrid, graduating in 1949 with the top academic award. He further garnered a PhD in 1956 and worked as a professor of architecture in Madrid during the 1960s before focusing full-time on architectural practice from 1970 onwards. After studying architecture there in the late 1940s, he worked extensively in the Spanish capital while undertaking some landmark projects in other parts of the country. Cano Lasso lived and worked in Madrid for his entire career, serving as an architecture professor in the city during the 1960s. He passed away on December 7, 1996, at age 76, in Madrid.
One of Julio Cano Lasso’s most significant architectural achievements was his dramatic, expressive design for the Auditorium of Galicia concert hall in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in 1986-88. The bold concrete volumes adapt seamlessly to the hilly terrain while creating a welcoming new civic focal point through their sculptural dynamism. The auditorium’s organicism demonstrates Cano Lasso’s consummate skill, marrying technical prowess with sensitivity to local landscapes and culture.
Some other significant works Julio Cano Lasso created across Spain include the Socialist Party’s headquarters in Madrid (1973), the Labor University complexes in Almería (1973-74), and Ourense (1974-75) featuring sweeping interconnected forms, and his 1966-74 social housing block on Madrid’s Basílica Street where strong repetitive geometry meets Human scale. Cano Lasso deftly balanced technical rigor with humanism throughout his rationalist Spanish oeuvre.
15. Alberto Campo Baeza
The eminent Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza was born in 1946 in Valladolid, which is located in central Spain’s Castile and León regions. His family moved to the coastal city of Cádiz in southern Spain when he was a child, following his father’s military career. He was educated at the highly regarded Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura in Madrid, Spain’s premier academy for studying architecture. He first obtained his initial degree in architecture from the school in 1971 after completing the entire multi-year course of study. After several years of professional work, Campo Baeza returned to his educational roots and pursued a doctoral degree in architecture from the same Madrid institution, earning his Ph.D. in 1982 after further dedicated study under the institution’s demanding standards.
Alberto Campo Baeza built his reputation via deeply modernist architecture, recalling early modern greats like Mies van der Rohe by emphasizing spare, elegant use of quality materials like glass and stone, embracing light, and focusing on clean lines by removing unnecessary ornament. He was linked to a “silent architecture” style for its peaceful, meditative effect enhanced by the careful use of white planes and pools of natural light.
Alberto Campo Baeza’s great accomplishment in Spain is considered to be his design for the Caja Granada Savings Bank headquarters, which was completed in Granada, Spain, in 2001.
Some of Campo Baeza’s other most essential jobs in Spain include the Gaspar House in Cádiz (1992), the de Blas House in Madrid (2000), the BIT Center in Mallorca (1998), the MA Museum/Museum of Memory of Andalucía in Granada (2009-2010), and the Offices for the Junta de Castilla y León in Zamora (2012). His residential, public, and commercial architecture across Spain has shaped Spanish architectural identity.
16. Carlos Ferrater
Carlos Ferrater is an eminent Spanish architect born in 1944 in Barcelona, where he continues to be based and practice architecture over 50 years into his prolific career. After growing up in Barcelona, Ferrater pursued architecture studies at the Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB), graduating in 1971. Ferrater later returned to academia even while maintaining his professional practice, earning a Ph.D. in Architecture from ETSAB in 1987.
This catalyzed the launch of his architectural career in his native city, as Ferrater set up his studio and began working on projects in Barcelona in the early 1970s. Now 78 years old, Carlos Ferrater remains actively engaged as a practicing architect from his Barcelona-based firm OAB (Office of Architecture in Barcelona), which he established in 2006 alongside family members to spur architectural innovation further.
Carlos Ferrater is known for highly creative, artistic, modern architecture that redefines spaces beyond their essential functions into light-filled, or contemporary built forms in harmony with culture and nature. Carlos Ferrater’s receipt of Spain’s National Architecture Award in 2009 is considered his excellent career accomplishment on the national stage in recognition of his contributions to modern Spanish architecture through culturally resonant, sustainable, creatively designed built forms, from individual homes to infrastructure. The award validated Ferrater’s decades-long body of work across Spain, animated by artistic experimentation with geometries, spatial fluidity, and natural light harvesting.
Some of Carlos Ferrater’s most widely acclaimed architectural works in his native Spain include the Barcelona Botanical Gardens (1999), the 2004 Auditorium and Congress Hall in Castellón, the Zaragoza Delicias Intermodal Hub (2003), the Benidorm West Beach Promenade (2007), as well as the earlier El Port housing in Girona (1980) and the Guix de la Meda residence, also in Girona (1984). Across genres from public to private projects, Ferrater’s Spanish portfolio displays consistent innovation in geometrical configurations, forms, and textures aligned with cultural and environmental contexts.
17. Francisco Mangado
Francisco Mangado is an eminent contemporary Spanish architect born in 1957 in Navarre, northern Spain. After growing up in his native Navarre, he earned his professional architecture degree from the respected University of Navarre School of Architecture in 1982. He has also held visiting professorships at other prestigious global architecture schools like Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and Yale School of Architecture. Now 65 years old, Francisco Mangado remains highly prolific as a practicing architect with his firm based in Pamplona and Madrid, and he conveys his design philosophy to new generations through his academic commitments.
Francisco Mangado has become globally recognized for highly creative contemporary Spanish architecture that retains connective threads to localized cultural and environmental contexts through textural and material palettes. Sophisticated geometries and fragmented forms unify his projects across scales from museums to infrastructure. Mangado describes architecture as an “artistic discipline” that must remain rooted in its unique place and community identity. Awards like the Berlin Art Prize in Architecture and the American Institute of Architects Honorary Fellowship validate Mangado’s world-class design excellence in promoting architecture’s role in society.
The pinnacle achievement in Francisco Mangado’s career thus far on the Spanish architecture stage is widely considered to be his 2015 Fine Arts Museum of Asturias. Some of Francisco Mangado’s other most critically acclaimed projects in Spain include the 2002 Palacio de Congresos Baluarte (Congress Center and Auditorium) in Pamplona, the 2009 Vitoria-Gasteiz Archaeology Museum, and the dramatic 2016 Congress Center of Palma de Mallorca which presents a bold geometric glass volume against a historic fortification. Mangado is also known for more minor but equally inventive works like his Place Dali urban intervention in Madrid. Across scales, his portfolio displays consistent imagination balanced with respect for heritage and environment.
18. Rafael de La-Hoz
Rafael de La-Hoz is a Spanish architect born in Córdoba, Spain, sometime in the mid-20th century. After growing up in Córdoba, de La-Hoz moved north to pursue his professional education as an architect, earning his degree from the respected School of Architecture of Madrid (ETSAM). He has also obtained a Master’s degree in Construction and Real Estate Management to enhance the business capabilities supporting his thriving century-old firm today. Rafael de La-Hoz established his professional firm in Spain’s capital city of Madrid, where the architect has been based over the past two decades. De La-Hoz is still alive and active in practice today, now in his 60s or early 70s, with his nearly century-old firm started in 1920 by his grandfather and passed down across three generations still thriving in central Madrid as he continues leading high-profile global projects.
Rafael de La-Hoz has become a global exemplar for sustainable and highly creative contemporary Spanish architecture that blends modern aesthetics and innovation with cultural sensitivity and environmental responsibility. Award-winning works like the Repsol Headquarters in Madrid display sleek geometries and eco-friendly materials melded with contextual relevance to Spanish identity, climate, and landscapes. De La-Hoz infuses flaring curves, dramatic cantilevers, and facades with locality and clarity of mission.
Rafael de La-Hoz’s receipt of his nation’s top career achievement award – the Gold Medal for Spanish Architecture – signified the pinnacle acknowledgment of his contributions to enriching Spain’s cultural heritage through harmonizing advanced design techniques with reverence for the past and environmental stewardship. Some of Rafael de La-Hoz’s most critically lauded architectural contributions within Spain have included dynamic contemporary landmarks like the Hercules Towers in Cádiz, the Repsol Madrid Headquarters (which achieved LEED Platinum green building certification), the Telefónica District C complex, also in environmentally progressive Madrid, the striking Daoíz y Velarde Cultural Center (winner of multiple international awards), and focuses on revitalizing historical urban fabrics like the Castelar Building refurbishment in central Madrid respectful of its Art-Deco heritage.
19. Josep Maria Jujol
Josep Maria Jujol was a Catalan-Spanish architect born in 1879 in Tarragona in Spain’s Catalonia region. After moving with his family to Barcelona as a child, Jujol developed a passion for the medieval Gothic architecture of the Barri Gòtic neighborhood. This inspired him to study architecture at the Barcelona School of Architecture, receiving his degree in 1901. Jujol launched his architecture career in Barcelona, where he was based for the rest of his life, working on projects across Catalonia until he died in Barcelona in 1949 at age 69. Though he lived in the shadow of his mentor Antoni Gaudí, Jujol significantly contributed to Catalan Modernisme architecture over his nearly 50-year career.
Josep Maria Jujol was a critical practitioner of Catalan Modernisme architecture in early 20th-century Spain, building off the medieval traditions of Catalonia’s Gothic heritage to create highly artistic, richly textured buildings ornamented with colorful mosaic tile patterns, sculptural shapes, and painted motifs. Josep Maria Jujol’s commission to fully design and construct the Metropol Theater in his home city of Tarragona between 1908 and 1910 signified his creative ascension and mastery.
Some of Josep Maria Jujol’s most seminal architectural works across his native Spain include his early collaborations with Antoni Gaudí on buildings like Casa Batlló (1904-06), Casa Milà (1906-10) and Park Güell (1900-14) showcasing his signature mosaic tilework and painted motifs. His standout buildings demonstrating creative maturation include the dramatic 1908-1910 Metropol Theater in Tarragona, the 1919 Torre de la Creu house in Sant Joan Despí, and the expressionistic 1926 design encapsulating Catholic spirituality. The entirety of Jujol’s portfolio emphasizes creative freedom and artistic individuality within the Catalan strain of Spanish modernism.
20. Elías Torres
Elías Torres is a contemporary Spanish architect born in 1944 on the Balearic island of Ibiza. After growing up in his native Ibiza, Torres earned his professional architecture degree from Barcelona’s respected Higher Technical School of Architecture (ETSAB) in 1968. This set the stage for him to launch his prolific career partnered with fellow architect José Antonio Martínez Lapeña in an architectural firm based out of Barcelona, where he has been practicing for over 50 years. After establishing his eminent architecture career, Torres returned to ETSAB as a professor in 1979, earning his Ph.D. in Architecture from Barcelona’s Polytechnic University in 1993. Now 79 years old, Elías Torres continues actively engaging in architectural practice across Spain and Europe while also teaching as a veteran professor at ETSAB in Barcelona, where he has been on faculty since 1979.
Elías Torres has become globally recognized for highly creative, artistic, contemporary Spanish architecture that balances modern design with the celebration of regional artisanry and craft across stone, tile, and wood. Awards like Spain’s prestigious 2016 National Prize for Architecture validate Torres’ talent for innovation arising from identity and place. The pinnacle achievement in Elías Torres’ architecture career on the Spanish stage is considered the 2016 National Prize for Architecture bestowed by Spain’s Ministry of Public Works in recognition of his extensive built portfolio across Spain since the 1960s. The ministry declared that Torres & partner Martínez Lapeña’s courageous works constitute “an example of innovation and constant search” while balancing modernity and regional context.
Some of Elías Torres’s most critically acclaimed architectural works within Spain include his dramatic reconception of public and cultural spaces like the 1986 renovation of Barcelona’s iconic Park Güell, his 1991-2017 restoration interventions on Palma de Mallorca’s historic fortress walls, the flying photovoltaic veils of Barcelona’s 2004 Forum Building, his reinvention of Seville’s iconic 2008 Alameda de Hércules promenade, as well as earlier housing complexes like his 1992 Olympic Village in Barcelona.
21. Jose Antonio Coderch
Jose Antonio Coderch was an eminent 20th-century Catalan-Spanish architect born in 1913 in Barcelona, Spain. After growing up in Barcelona, Coderch pursued architecture studies at the local Barcelona School of Architecture, graduating in 1940. This set the stage for him to launch his prolific career based out of studios in Barcelona, where he remained actively engaged in architectural practice until he died in 1984 at age 71. Though he only gained wider recognition later in life, Coderch created an influential body of work across Spain over his 40+ year career that came to be seen as a distinctive Catalan iteration of modernism rooted in regional contexts.
Jose Antonio Coderch pioneered a distinct Catalan iteration of modernism that organically adapted traditional Mediterranean architecture’s forms, textures, and environments into an inventive contemporary aesthetic. Described as exemplifying “Catalan Regionalist” modernism, his award-winning buildings celebrate regional identity via sensuous curves, careful siting in landscapes, and masterful environmental control. Jose Antonio Coderch’s commission to design the dramatic sculptural, nautically-shaped Spanish Pavilion at the 1951 Milan Triennale World’s Fair marked the pinnacle moment of his career validation on the Spanish architecture stage.
Some of Jose Antonio Coderch’s most seminal architectural works across his native Spain include his Casa Ugalde (1951) and Casa de la Marina (1952), the terraced 1952 Houses of Calle Calatrava in Barcelona, as well as later housing complexes like Madrid’s 1966 curvaceous Girasol Apartments, the Miesian Sea Promenade Apartments (1972) in Sitges, and commercial buildings like 1965’s Trade Office Building also located in Barcelona. Across housing types and scales, Coderch re-envisioned Catalan identity in residential architecture through a distinct regional modernism.
Who are the best Spanish architects in modern times?
Below is the list of the six best modern Spanish architects:
- Antoni Gaudí: Antoni Gaudí was an iconic Spanish architect known for his highly distinctive style, characterized by colorful mosaics, organic forms, and unusual structures that eschew straight lines. His masterpiece is the still-unfinished Sagrada Família basilica in Barcelona, which features towering spires, intricate carvings, and a forest-like interior with soaring columns modeled on trees. He pioneered novel techniques like using waste ceramic pieces to create mosaics and decorating functional elements like chimneys and vents with colorful patterns.
- Santiago Calatrava: Santiago Calatrava is an internationally known Spanish architect and engineer known for his futuristic, bone-like structures inspired by human and animal anatomies. His buildings feature sweeping curves, ribbed frameworks, and skeletal designs that lend them a weightless, kinetic quality. Calatrava’s most famous works include the City of Arts and Sciences complex in Valencia, with its glass and concrete structures resembling enormous animal skeletons, the Turning Torso tower in Malmö, Sweden, which twists 90 degrees along its height, and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York City, whose winged form references a dove being released from a child’s hands.
- Ricardo Bofill: Ricardo Bofill was one of Spain’s most prominent postmodern architects. He is particularly known for integrating existing abandoned structures into his designs, such as silos, factories, and power plants, transforming them into striking postmodern spaces. His most famous adaptive reuse project is La Fábrica, the former cement factory outside Barcelona that Bofill converted into his office headquarters. He integrated the existing towers and concrete structures into a new whole, filling the spaces with gardens and modernist curves and arches to create a unique, surreal complex.
- Alberto Campo Baeza: Campo Baeza is an acclaimed Spanish architect who embraces minimalism and values the interplay of light and shadow above all else. His austere, modernist buildings use simple geometric forms that allow light to take shape. His most famous work is the Caja General de Ahorros de Granada, which features a square glass box enclosing a stone courtyard open to the sky. Other works include the Offices for Benetton in Venice, defined by a suspended white box perforated by tiny windows, and the Gaspar House with its stark white planes.
- Rafael Moneo: Rafael Rafael Moneo is one of Spain’s most respected architects, known for his contextual works that thoughtfully integrate with their environments. He won the Pritzker Prize in 1996 for his extensive contributions to the field. His most famous building is the Kursaal Palace in San Sebastian, which features two glass cubes enclosing an auditorium and convention center. The translucent cubes connect the structure to the nearby sea and surrounding hills while the textured exterior relates to the adjacent stone buildings.
- Enric Miralles: Enric Miralles was a Spanish architect that tragically cut short by his early death, Miralles produced powerfully expressive works that helped redefine Spanish architecture. He is known for wild, unconventional buildings with tilted angles, colors, and irregular forms. His most famous work is the Santa Caterina Market in Barcelona, which features a wavy, colorful roof enclosing the open-air market. Other projects include the Scottish Parliament Building, with its inventive configurations of concrete beams, oak, and steel, and the Igualada Cemetery, where he transformed the idea of a cemetery into a rich sensory landscape.
Who are the best Spanish architects with the biggest influence on Modern Architecture?
Here is the list of the best Spanish architects with the biggest influence on Modern Architecture:
- Antoni Gaudí: Antoni Gaudí is one of the most famous architects of the first half of the 20th century and a pioneering figure of Art Nouveau and Catalan Modernism. Nature, neo-Gothic art, Oriental techniques, and Art Nouveau architecture heavily influenced his architectural style. Gaudí’s work is characterized by its structures, with the Basílica de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona being one of his most popular creations. His other notable works include Park Güell, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera.
- Santiago Calatrava: Santiago Calatrava is a Spanish architect known for his innovative and dynamic architectural style, Calatrava has revolutionized concrete and steel usage in architecture. He started his career as a structural engineer and gained fame for the beauty of his designs. Calatrava’s designs look towards the future, not just in terms of technology but also through the materials that he uses. His most notable works include the Olympic Sports Complex in Athens and the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia.
- Rafael Moneo: Rafael Moneo is one of the most coveted architects to come out of Spain in recent years. His style is characterized by the fusion of contemporary trends with traditional Nordic styles and materials. Moneo’s work is guided by the philosophy of creating something for future generations to admire, that won’t go in and out of fashion. His notable works include the extension for Madrid’s Prado Museum and La Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles in LA
- Enric Miralles: Enric Miralles was known for his unconventional, expressive buildings with dynamic, irregular shapes and eclectic stylistic references. Key projects like the Santa Caterina Market in Barcelona brought new freedom and emotion to civic architecture through bold experimentation with unexpected material combinations and structural expressions. Miralles expanded public architecture possibilities by fusing avant-garde forms with nature representations while retaining functional cores. His daring formal inventiveness remains influential in pushing the boundaries of architectural creativity.
- Ricardo Bofill: Ricardo Bofill was a Spanish architect that pioneered postmodern adaptive reuse in Spain on an unprecedented scale, converting abandoned concrete factories and silos into surreal, monumental complexes like his famous La Fábrica project. Bofill displayed a vision for architecture’s role in regenerating decaying urban neighborhoods. His flair for repurposing decrepit buildings and amplifying visual contrasts through additions like gardens set an influential precedent for architecture’s transformative societal impact.
What are the most famous architectural wonders in Spain?
The most famous architectural wonders in the United Kingdom are La Sagrada Familia, Alhambra Palace, and Guggenheim Museum. Firstly, the most iconic architectural wonder in Spain is La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It was designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, this grand basilica combines Gothic and Art Nouveau architectural styles. La Sagrada Familia has been under construction since 1882 and is expected to be completed by 2026. Secondly, the Alhambra palace and fortress complex in Granada is considered a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. Constructed in the 13th and 14th centuries, the Alhambra’s intricate geometrical patterns, arabesque designs, courtyards, fountains, and gardens reflect the sophistication of Moorish arts and architecture. Lastly, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao designed by famous Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry is a modern architectural wonder. Galleries showcase cutting-edge modern and contemporary art exhibitions. These iconic buildings showcase incredible artistic vision and continue to inspire architects today.
What are the most known architectural firms in Spain?
There are three major architectural firms in Spain includes Rafael de La-Hoz Architects, IDOM, and Rafael Moneo Architects. Firstly, one of the most prestigious architecture firms in Spain is Rafael de La-Hoz Architects founded in 1920. Headquartered in Madrid, Rafael de La-Hoz is an internationally acclaimed multidisciplinary practice involved in architecture, urban planning, engineering, and design. They have contributed extensively to the modernization of architecture in Spain with a focus on sustainability. Some of their key projects include the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Malaga, the new Terminal 1 at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, and the Torre Caleido office skyscraper in Madrid. Secondly, IDOM is another leading Spanish architecture firm established in 1957 in San Sebastián and later expanded to over 15 offices worldwide. With over 60 years of experience, IDOM is recognized for its excellence in architectural design, engineering, and consulting across various sectors like transport, energy, industry, water, architecture, and urbanism. They have received over 300 awards for pioneering projects such as the Passenger Terminal at the Port of La Luz in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, the Bilbao Exhibition Centre, and the Lima Metro in Peru. Lastly, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rafael Moneo founded his eponymous studio Rafael Moneo Architects in Madrid in 1985. His notable projects in Spain include the Kursaal Palace auditorium and convention center in San Sebastián, the Bankinter Building in Madrid, and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Moneo has received the RIBA Royal Gold Medal and the Praemium Imperiale for his lasting contributions to world architecture over his 50-year career.
What is the architecture body in Spain?
Here is a list of major architectural bodies in Spain:
- The Council of Spanish Architects (CSCAE): The Council of Spanish Architects is the governing body that represents architecture associations in Spain. Founded in 1931, it was established to regulate and promote the architectural profession. The council plays a vital role in protecting the title and function of “architect,” promoting quality architecture, and organizing conferences and events like the Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism. The council is led by Marta Vall-lesser Ferran. It has also signed an agreement with World-Architects to increase the visibility of Spanish architecture globally. The CSCAE is one of the most relevant institutions promoting and regulating architecture in Spain.
- The House of Architecture: The House of Architecture is a state-owned museum and institution focused on disseminating Spanish architectural legacy and contemporary architecture. It serves as both a traditional museum and a platform for architectural discourse and knowledge exchange. The museum has a crucial role in research, exhibition of architecture, and organizing conferences and workshops. The House of Architecture is one of the primary institutions that promote Spanish architectural heritage and progress the field of architecture in Spain.
- The Council for Architectural Quality: The Council for Architectural Quality is a platform for dialogue, participation, and coordination regarding architectural quality. It brings together public administrations, professional associations, educational institutions, and civil society. The council was created under the new Law on Architectural Quality approved in 2022. It aims to integrate architecture into public policies and projects. The council plays a crucial role in preserving Spanish architectural heritage while also progressing the field.
What is the most popular architectural style in Spain?
The most popular and iconic architectural style found across Spain is Spanish Baroque, exemplified by ornate churches, palaces, and monasteries built between the 17th to mid 18th centuries. Spanish Baroque architecture is characterized by highly decorative facades, sculpture work, gilded interiors, intricate floor and ceiling details, and lavishly tiled domes and towers that create a sense of movement and theatrical grandeur. The style emerged as Spain established itself as a dominant Catholic global empire during the Spanish Golden Age, leading to an influx of wealth from the New World into its major cities.
What are the most used house-building materials in Spain?
The most used house-building materials in Spain are bricks, concrete, and local stone. Firstly, Spanish red clay brick is the most used material found across roofing, floors, walls, and architectural details of residential buildings across Spain. Traditional dark red rectangular bricks are commonly arranged in repeating patterns, textures, and layered dimensions to build facades across Spanish architecture. Secondly, Spanish concrete became essential for modern home construction from the 20th century onwards. It is usually coated with waterproof textured paint in white, neutral, and pastel shades typical of Spanish minimalist aesthetics. Lastly, natural stone is a used component of Spanish residences to dwellings with the surrounding landscapes. Granite, slate, marble, and sandstone claddings introduce rich earthen hues, delicate patterns, and cooling textures and help capture unique regional terrains. Rustic country cottages and villas may sport robust granite blocks, with details in softer beige limestone and blue-grey slate roof tiles.
Do building materials affect the payment of an architect?
Yes, the building materials an architect specifies can sometimes affect their payment, but there are other factors besides this. Most residential architects charge fees based on a percentage of total construction costs. More expensive materials like premium finishes will raise the overall budget and the architect’s percentage fee. However, an architect’s compensation is primarily determined by the size and complexity of the home design rather than the material cost. Their fee reflects overall services like producing drawings, submitting permits and constructing administration. An architect may try to steer clients toward higher-end materials that raise their percentage fee, but ethical architects act in the client’s best interest regardless of the materials selected. Material costs are a more prominent factor for contractors who earn profit
How much is the salary of an architect in Spain?
The average salary for an architect in Spain is $46000 (€43000, £36000) per year. A junior architect or intern just starting makes an average of $28000 (€26000, £22000). At this beginner level, architects usually work under the supervision of more senior staff, focusing on drafting, model making, computer renders, quantity surveying, and assisting with submissions for planning permissions. Once an architect has 3 to 5 years of experience, their salary typically rises to the range of $36000-$41000 (€34000-€38000, £28000-£32000) as they take on more responsibilities for developing concepts, managing consultants, and running smaller projects more independently. At the mid-level stage of their career with 5-10 years of experience, Spanish architects salaries increase to $46000-$69000 (€43000-€65000, £36000-£54000). These architects often oversee teams and construction administration, collaborate with engineers and stakeholders, and spearhead medium to large-scale design commissions from start to completion.
Once Spanish architects reach the senior or director positions with over 15-20 years of industry knowledge and proven large project success, they command premium wages ranging from $74000 up to $138000+ (€69000-€130000+, £58000-£108000+). These highly skilled architects steer an entire firm’s design vision, pitch important contracts, mentor staff, and tackle complex builds requiring extensive technical knowledge and creative problem-solving abilities.
What cities have the highest salaries in Spain?
The cities with the highest salaries are Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao. In Madrid, the average salaries for architects align with some of the highest wages across Spain at around $46000-$57500 (€43000-€54000, £36000-£45000) annually. Barcelona offers competitive salaries between $46000-$69000 (€43000-€65000, £36000-£54000) yearly for mid to senior architects. In Valencia and Bilbao, average architect wages are lower at $35000-$41000 (€33000-€38500, £28000-£32000). However, stand-out architects driving promotions, cutting-edge projects or green building expertise still garner $57500+ (€54000+, £45000+) in these cities.