Last september Oriol Bohigas Guardiola
he handed over his files to the Arxiu Nacional de Catalunya. Suffering from Parkinson’s since 2015, the architect and urban planner gathered in those 113 boxes some thirty notebooks, papers from his doctoral thesis, projects for national and international competitions, his classes as professor at the Technical School of Architecture of Barcelona ( 1977-1980), articles (1945-2011), correspondence, documentation of his municipal action -director of urban planning, Councilor for Culture- and of his presidency of the Ateneu Barcelonès between 2003 and 2011.
Bohigas, who just died at 95, He was a man of dogmas: his model was the architecture that went from Noucentisme to rationalism, an admirer of Le Corbusier and Van der Rohe and republican Catalonia.
Modernism interested him as a cosmopolitan openness to European currents, but he abhorred the decorativeism that clashed with his naked vision of the building. He was not in favor, for example, of continuing the Holy Family: it seemed to him a “World shame.”
The only son of a bourgeois and Catalan family, he studied at the Instituto-Escuela de la Generalitat. In one of his books, ‘Modernity in the architecture of republican Spain’ (Tusquets), Bohigas identifies the regime of April 14 with modernity and pays tribute to those he considers his masters: Rafael Bergamín, Josep Lluís Sert, with the Gatepac and the magazine AC, Secundino Zuazo and Torres Clavé: “With these names and with the entire list of collaborators, with all the urban planners and architects who worked hard from the ministries, from the municipalities or from their private studies, the Republic managed to create the cultural environment of an avant-garde attitude in the world of design and planning, as it had achieved in parallel in other fields ”, he points out.
Associated with Josep Maria Martorell in 1951, the professional entente was expanded ten years later with David Mackay at the MBM Arquitectes studio. The Martorell-Bohigas and Mackay trio signed a series of projects that renewed the Barcelona landscape, from the Porcioles years to post-Olympic Barcelona. Among his achievements, the Ronda Guinardó (1964), the Thau School (1974), the Olympic village and port (1992), the Palau Nou de la Rambla (1993), the Pompeu Fabra University (2001), or the extension of the English Court (2004).
In the sixties and seventies, the name of Bohigas was associated with the “Divine left” where he shares the role of architect with Ricardo Bofill. When he was mentioned that period of the Bocaccio nightclub, the summers of Cadaqués -which Terenci Moix literaturized in ‘The sex of the angels’ – and the erotic-festive activism, Bohigas preferred to orient his comments to cultural production: make an in-depth analysis of the characteristics of that Gauche Divine, starting with the well-made lists of the filmmakers and the films they made, the architects and the amount of things they did, the painters, the philosophers, the musicians … From the publishers that were founded, the concert circles that were held, the entry of foreign philosophers to give lectures in Barcelona… ”declared the journalist Martí Font.
With the arrival of democracy, Bohigas acceded in 1977 to the chair that had been forbidden to him for his anti-Franco activities – in 1971 he refused to swear to the Principles of the Movement – and in 1980 Narcís Serra He offers to direct Barcelona’s urban planning: the architect used the verb “darn” the city from small units.
From that stage were the ‘hard squares’, so criticized, and their competition with Bofill, the alternative architect of Convergence. When he was attacked, Bohigas, who had moved his residence to a Royal square that exchanged sand for tile, considered it a mistake to identify the squares with the vegetation: “The squares are as they can be but they are usually paved”, sentenced. Nor did he like his fondness for buildings without balconies, criticized by the urban planner Luis Racionero, but Bohigas was always unshakable in architecture and politics.
In his last years, from the presidency of the Ateneu, he accentuated if possible a Catalanism that derived in sovereignty expressed with a provocative spirit: “More than a supporter of independence, what I don’t want is to be Spanish.” Bohigas conceived architecture as political action: an ideologue, for better or for worse, of crushed stone.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism