Spaces to learn. Architecture and Teaching (VII) | Raquel Martínez – Alberto Ruiz

Paralyzation and to re-arise from the educational space in the second half of the 20th century

The economic consequences of the war, joined the isolation suffered by the country in the years immediately later to this one it was translated, likewise, in the almost absolute paralyzation of the constructive activity in the educational area, beyond some school buildings included in the reconstruction undertaken by the National Service of Devastated Regions, and of certain symbolic actions, as the already mentioned intervention in the buildings of the Colina de los Chopos.

The years of the dictatorship passed, of this form, marked by the ideological monopoly of the Church in educational questions. The most innovative expositions were left of side to reinforce the values on which the State was trying to build his ideological framework. This situation will begin to be reverted at the end of the 50s, and will be more for a logical social evolution than for a real will of the authorities. As indicates Francisco Burgos,

“lthe morphologic update of the schools will not be, except exceptions, the product of the interpretation in spatial key of a certain pedagogy”. 1

The certain thing is that the whole new generation of Spanish begins to assume the realities of a world to which Spain still was refusing to incorporate. And the architects, left already many of the paralizantes ideological prejudices of the postwar period, are going to find in the development of new school tipologías a propitious field of experimentation.

Another circumstance turns out to be determinant for the appearance of a new type of school building. The Council Vatican the IInd – summoned in 1959-supposes a perfect justification for the progressive modernization of the religious, majority education in Spain. The need of integration of the educational religious institutions in a civil society with which they were starting losing the step forces to restate many of the educational unremovable concepts till then. For it it will be appealed, ironically, to many of the expositions introduced by the progressive movements of ends of the XIXth. The graduated education will recover – still not the separation for sexes; the alternative activity to the purely educational one, the relation with the Nature and, in a more concrete plane, the criteria hygienists of ventilation, lighting and orientation who will give place to the new school constructions. Examples of these new expositions we can find in the Institute Our Lady of Santa Maria, projected in 1960 by Antonio Fernandez Alba or the Gymnasium of the College You Astonish, of Alejandro de la Sota.

On the other hand, the State will begin to interfere of a more active form in the organization of the educational system and, though it will be necessary to wait to the last moments of the dictatorship, successive initiatives will be appearing as the General Law of Education of 1970, or the summons of the National Prize of Architecture of 1971, dedicated to the construction of a school identical prototype to this new regulation. With the arrival of the democracy, there will be attacked a notable impulse of the school park, though the urgencies in his accomplishment will motivate the adoption of economic and obsolete criteria of design, removed from the answers adapted to the royal needs and to the challenges of the educational sector of the imminent change of century.

Institute Our Lady of Santa Maria, Madrid. Arq. Antonio Fernandez Alba, 1960 | Source: Foundation DoCoMoMo Ibérico
Gymnasium of the Maravillas Collage. Madrid. Arq. Alejandro de la Sota, 1960 | Source: Fundación DoCoMoMo Ibérico

Perspective of future.

Since we have indicated, in the last years of the 20th century and the first ones of the 21st century, the conception of the educational spaces has been marked more for criteria economic – derived from the need of rapid and wide response before the universality of the education and the demographic boom – that for pedagogic criteria and of architectural quality.

Likewise, the incorporation of the TIC to the educational spaces is still very slow – though it it is also his incorporation to the own educational methodologies – you upset as devices adhered to the architecture prexistente but without impact in his genesis.

We are in a moment of deep change in the education, and the architecture, since it has done in the past, it must find the way of offering a response by means of educational spaces that not only allow the development of new methodologies, but in addition they contribute to the same ones.

Raquel Martínez and Alberto Ruiz
architects, teachers and investigators

Madrid. juny 2014


1 Citado por Francisco Burgos en La Arquitectura del Aula.



GARCIA PABLOS, Rodolfo. Construcciones Escolares. Curso organizado por el gobierno español como colaboración al proyecto principal de la UNESCO. Madrid: Dirección General de Enseñanza Primaria, 1962

LANDROVE, Susana, ed. Equipamientos I. Lugares públicos y nuevos programas, 1925-1965. Registro DoCoMoMo Ibérico. Barcelona: Fundación Caja de Arquitectos: Fundación DOCOMOMO ibérico, 2010

BURGOS RUIZ, Francisco. La arquitectura del aula. Nuevas escuelas madrileñas, 1868-1968. Madrid: Ayuntamiento de Madrid. Área de las Artes, 2007

A.C. Documentos de Actividad Contemporánea. nº 9. Primer trimestre de 1933. Barcelona Madrid San Sebastián: G.A.T.E.P.A.C. (Grupo de Arquitectos y Técnicos Españoles para el Progreso de la Arquitectura Contemporánea), 1931-1937

Resources on line:

Stepien y Barno´s blog. La enseñanza según Louis Kahn [on line] April, 2010 [It Consults in July, 2012] Available in web

ALVES GONÇALVES, Polyanna. Herman Hertzberger. Edificios Escolares [on line]. October, 2009, 2010 [It Consults in July, 2012] Available in web

Es Doctor Arquitecto por la ETSAM, compaginando su actividad profesional con la docencia y la investigación en la URJC. Los artículos son un reflejo de la inquietud, reflexión y pensamiento en torno a mi pasión: la arquitectura.

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