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Collage of buildings by famous Barcelona architects

Complete list of famous architects in Barcelona

FROM THE MIDDLE AGES UP TO OUR DAYS

If Madrid is a museums city, Barcelona is an architectural city. Its buildings have planted the city skyline with iconic landmarks, already since the old ages. But behind a building there’s someone who had it in mind and put it in place. If you want a list of top buildings in Barcelona, we already have one in our blog. But who are the people behind the city architecture? That’s what we’ll discover today in this post.

Where Barcelona architects famous in the Middle Ages?

1

Berenguer de Montagut (XIVth century)

Most of the time, medieval architects didn’t get any credit. They didn’t have specific studies, but had served first as apprentices of other master builders until they reached the foreman level. But in Barcelona there’s one name: Berenguer de Montagut. He was a top master of the Catalan Gothic style, creator of the elegant church of Santa Maria del Mar, considered one of the purest examples of Catalan Gothic architecture. He also worked in the Cathedral of Manresa and the one in Palma de Mallorca, and could have also collaborated in Santa Maria del Pi in Barcelona.

If you are interested in the construction of old churches and love historical novels, the best seller The Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones follows the story of how Santa Maria del Mar was built, and the (fictional) character of Berenguer de Montagut has a few cameos on it.

The greatest modernism architects of Barcelona

2

Lluís Domènech i Muntaner (1849-1923)

Domenech i Muntaner is considered the leader of the Barcelona Modernism. Two of his buildings, the Castell dels Tres Dragons in the Ciutadella Park and the Editorial Montaner (now Antoni Tapies foundation), are considered the first modernist buildings ever built in the city. His masterpieces include the marvelous Palau de la Musica Catalana concert hall, as well as the Hospital of Sant Pau. Here are some tips to explore his works:

3

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852-1926)

The figure of Antoni Gaudi gives not just for another blog post, but for several books. You can start learning about him with all our blog posts about Gaudi and his works. He was the master that transformed the landscape of Barcelona. A visionary that only a few understood in his own time, and whose works weren’t aclaimed until the end of the XXth century, with the Olympic Games. While he started working within the modernism frame, he took his architecture to a whole new level none other was able to reach. Not just from the visual and aesthetic point of view, but also by his creative engineering solutions.

The best way to get acquainted with this amazing architect’s works is taking one of our specialty Gaudi tours. We have the largest offer of Gaudi architecture tours in Barcelona: masterpieces, full day, minor works, works out of town… But if you prefer to do them on your own, make sure to buy your tickets ahead of time, as they tend to sell out:

4

Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867-1956)

The youngest of the gold triad of the Barcelona Modernisme, he was not just an architect but also a historian and a politician. As an art historian he specialized in Ancient and Medieval Art, leading important archaeological researches as well as the restoration of medieval buildings. As a politician he was a Barcelona counseler, a deputee in Madrid and president of the Mancomunitat de Catalunya (the equivalent to the current Generalitat). 

Both aspects of this life reflect in his architecture, that shows a strong influence of Gothic style as well as a strong feeling of Catalan patriotism. He worked mostly for wealthy local families building apartment buildings and private residences for them

5

Other modernist architects to keep under your radar

The Barcelona Modernism was such a creative and prolific time that history has needed to be selective. Buildings and architects that in other cities would be a must-see, become "just one more pretty building" in Barcelona. But if you are an architecture lover, there are other modernism names worth knowing about. Let me share with you some other of the architects that worked along with the big names:
  • Josep Fontserè i Mestres (1829-1897). From a family of builders, building was in his blood. A young Antoni Gaudí helped him as an assistant designing the waterfall of the Ciutadella Park. He also built the market of El Born (now an holding an archeological site) and the gorgeous Parc Sama in the beach town of Cambrils, that might have inspired Gaudi for Park Guell. 
  • Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia (1858-1931). With over 300 projects, he was probably the busiest and most succesful architect of his time. He did lots of things, from private homes and apartment buildings, to churches and public buildings. The Arch of Triumph and the Church of the Holy Heart in the Tibidabo mountain are some of his most famous projects.
  • Salvador Valeri i Pupurull (1873-1954). Not as prolific as the others, you need to see his Casa Comalat – not just the main façade on 442, Diagonal Avenue, but specially its colorful back side giving to Corsega street: you’d never thing they are the same building!
  • Josep Maria Jujol (1879-1927). One of the closest collaborators of Antoni Gaudi, his genious and creativity was always shadowed by his boss. He worked mostly out of town, but in Barcelona his Casa Planells on 332, Diagonal Avenue will remind you of Frank Ghery’s Fred and Ginger in Prague.
  • Manuel Sayrach i Carreras (1886-1937). Don’t miss the opportunity of eating fine dining in La Dama, inside his Casa Sayrachs.

Top contemporary architects from Barcelona

6

Josep Lluís Sert (1902-1983)

One of the Spanish architects founders of GATPAC, a movement that promoted contemporary architecture in the early, his work was deeply influenced by rationalist architects such as the French Le Corbusier. Architecture professor in Yale and Harvard, he build buildings for the Harvard and Boston university campuses. In Barcelona he built several housing buildings from which stands out his Casa Bloc, and the white building housing the Miro Foundation. The pavilion that he designed for the French International Exhibition to represent the Spanish Repulic has been rebuilt and now houses a universitary library.

7

Oriol Bohigas Guardiola (1925-2021)

University professor and counseler of the Barcelona City Council on urbanism matters, as an architect he received numerous awards and worked in collaboration with Josep Maria Martorell and David Mackay for their join office MBM. The Port Olimpic Marina and the DHUB museum are some of his public projects.

8

Ricardo Bofill Leví (1939-2022)

With most of his projects in Spain and France, it’s very likely that you’ll be greeted by one of his projects as soon as you step in Barcelona: both the Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of the Barcelona airport were designed by him. The National Theater of Catalonia (TNC) and the W Hotel are also by him.

9

Enric Miralles Moya (1955-2000)

Dead prematurily at the age of 45, that didn’t prevent him from winning several architecture awards and working all over Europe, as well as in the US and Japan. In his early career he shared projects with his wife, the also architect Carme Pinós, and after a short 4-year period he started working with his second wife, Benedetta Tagliabue, an architect, too. She’s completed the works that had already been started when Miralles died.

His most important project was the Parlament of Scotland. In Barcelona you must see the Market of Santa Caterina, the headquarters of Gas Natural and the Parc de Diagonal Mar.

10

Enric Ruiz-Geli (Born 1968)

An architect, set designer and digital artist, his projects include both buildings and staging for exhibits, museums and scenic art shows. His style is sensorial and fluid, and incorporates new technologies and materials that become key to shape the organicity of his projects. His Media-Tic office building is one of the best and most fascinating examples of sustainability and efficiency that you'll find in the 22@ district of Barcelona.

Other modern Spanish architects in Barcelona

11

Rafael Moneo Vallés (Born 1937)

This famous Spanish architect was born in Tudela (Aragon), he estudied and worked in Madrid, then became a professor in Harvard. While he is most famous for the Kursaal auditorium in San Sebastian (Basque Country, Spain), in Barcelona you can see two of his pieces, the Auditori (also headquarters of a music school and the Museum of the Music), and the shopping mall and office building La Illa.

12

Santiago Calatrava Valls (Born 1951)

Born in Benimámet (Valencia), he is an Spanish architect, engineer and sculpture. His style is defined by the use of parabolic and hyperboloid arches and domes, often of a clean white, and while he’s done buildings, he’s most popular for his outstanding bridges. We have one of the in Barcelona, on Bac de Roda street over a field of railways – unfortunately it’s not easy to get a good view of it. But you can instead see his lean telecommunications tower on the Olympic Ring in Montjuic.

Famous international architects with projects in Barcelona

13

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969)

Mies van der Rohe was one of the pioneers on contemporary architecture. He is famous for his motto “Less is more”. In 1929 he was in charge of designing the German pavilion for the World Fair of Barcelona. His project strikingly stood out amongst the way more conservative and traditional pavilions of the other participating countries. For that pavilion he also designed the iconic Barcelona chair. 

Unfortunately, after the fair the pavilion was dismantled and the track of the original materials used for it was lost during WW2. However, in the 1980’s a group of Barcelona architects made possible its reconstruction. It was rebuilt on the same exact location over the original foundations, with similar materials, and it is currently open to the public.

14

Frank Gehry (Born 1929)

Canadian Frank Gehry was the most important of the architects that were invited to embelish Barcelona for the 1992 Olympics. This project, though, was quite humble: he built a sculpture-pergola to complete the surroundings of the two sky scrappers of the brand new Olympic Village. Shaped like a fish, its metal sheets reflect the light and catch everyone eyes. In the following years he was also asked to project the new fast speed train station in la Sagrera. He planned a majestic building inspired in the shape of a bride’s gown. Unfortunately it was a costly project that got abandonned when the economical crisis hit in 2009.

15

Arata Isozaki (Born 1931)

The Japanese architect was also invited to collaborate building facilities for the 1992 Olympics. His job was to design a covered stadium for the gymnastics competitions, that could be used for multiple activities after the games were over. Indeed, his Palau Sant Jordi can be considered one of the most versatile buildings in Barcelona. Then in 1999 he came back to design the new access for the Caixaforum exhibit centre, a modernist factory by Puig i Cadafalch.

His elegant solution connects the street level with the entrance in the underground level, through open escalators covered by a metal sculpture shapped like a tree.

16

Richard Rogers (1933-2021)

This British architect was also a Lord: Lord Rogers of Riverside. He was one of the icons of contemporary architecture, receiving many international prizes for his buildings that put in value and stand out the utilities that traditionally have been considered “ugly” and therefore have been hidden away from the view. That includes beams, wires, pipes, air conditioning… In Barcelona you can shop in a former bull ring that he remodelled into a shopping mall, Las Arenas. And you can also stay in a hotel he built in the subburbs, the Hyatt Regency (former Hesperia Tower).

17

Richard Meier (Born 1934)

The 1992 Olympics were also the opportunity to improve impoverished areas of the city. One of the most important projects in this sense involved bringing cultural centers to the problematic Raval district. Richard Meier was in charge of the flagship project: the new headquarters of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA)

18

Norman Foster (Born 1935)

Sir Norman Foster, later Lord Foster of Thames Bank, was another of the top international architects that were invited to participate in the 1992 Olympics architecture party. His job was to build a telecommunications antena for radio and TV, on top of the Tibidabo hill. Its shape, that reminds you of a syringe, was quite criticized by the locals then. In 2006 he could have had a new opportunity to befriend Barcelona, with the remodelling of the Camp Nou Stadium. Unfortunately, money and the change of president in the club meant the project wouldn’t see the light.

19

Toyo Ito (Born 1941)

The French Jean Nouvel is a regular in the Barcelona skyline. In 2005 he made a statement that left nobody indiferent with his Torre Agbar (now Torre Glories). That building came to transform the city landscape forever and marked a new era for contemporary architecture in Barcelona. Little after he designed the Parc Central del Poblenou not far away. And that same year he built also the Hotel Catalonia Fira (now Reinassence Barcelona Fira) in the subburbs between the city and the airport. If everything works well, the new look of the FC Barcelona Stadium will be designed by him.

20

Jean Nouvel (Born 1945)

The French Jean Nouvel is a regular in the Barcelona skyline. In 2005 he made a statement that left nobody indiferent with his Torre Agbar (now Torre Glories). That building came to transform the city landscape forever and marked a new era for contemporary architecture in Barcelona. Little after he designed the Parc Central del Poblenou not far away. And that same year he built also the Hotel Catalonia Fira (now Reinassence Barcelona Fira) in the subburbs between the city and the airport. If everything works well, the new look of the FC Barcelona Stadium will be designed by him.

21

Jacques Herzog & Pierre Demeuron (both born 1950)

The famous Swiss architects were called to create the flagship building of the Forum of Cultures 2004, an international event that was going to be the new concept of World Fairs, and at the same time help improving a very deteriorated area of Barcelona. Their Blue Building, also called Edifici Forum, hosts now the Museum of Natural Sciences.

What about women architects in Barcelona?

22

Carme Pinós i Desplat (Born 1954)

First wife of Enric Miralles, they worked together between 1985 and 1994, then she continued her career with her own architecture studio. From his time with Miralles, in Barcelona you can enjoy a walk under the pergolas they built in Avinguda Icaria, and unfortunately their innovative pavilion for the archery competitions of the 1992 Olympics was dismantled and not much is left of it. In recent years, she’s done a handful of things in Barcelona as most of his work is out of town. Explore the backside of the Boqueria Market and the Zona Universitaria station on L9 (the branch of L3 isn’t hers).

23

Benedetta Tagliabue (Born 1963)

Second wife of Enric Miralles, they worked together from 1991 (but it's not until 1994 that they opened their joined Miralles Tagliabue EMBT studio), until Miralle's death in 2000. Since then, she completed the projects they had started together that weren't finished yet, and has continued leading their studio. The Diagonal Mar park, the Santa Caterina Market, the Natural Gas headquarters are some of their projects in common.

On her own, she’s designed the Kalida center for emotional support of cancer patients, in the Hospital de Sant Pau, that blends in elegantly with its modernist surroundings.

24

Marta Bayona Mas (Born 1971)

A university professor and awarded architect, she shares a studio with her partner Albert Valero. She specializes on public projects (city equipments, public buildings, urbanism…) but also does private projects such as dwellings and remodellation works. Clean lines and adaptation to the space and use of the buildings are her signature. Check their website to learn more.

25

Anna Bonet i Giné (Born 1979) and Daria de Seta (Born 1972)

These two female architects partner with Jordi Garces in their award-winning studio, with a lot of public and private projects abroad, but also a few in Barcelona. The new wing of the backside of the Picasso museum is theirs. Check their website to learn more.

Enjoy exploring the work of the best architects Barcelona has to offer!

Marta

Author Marta Laurent Veciana

AUTHOR BIO

Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.

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