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Josep Torres Clavé

Barcelona, Spain
1 of 2Blocpavellorepublica

An architect, designer, town planner and revolutionary, Josep Torres Clavé was one of the most outstanding figures of the Spanish artistic avant-garde of the ’30s. He introduced the Modern Movement in Spain and was the authorof iconic works of Modernism. In 1929, he became a founding member of the GATCPAC (Group of Catalan Architects and Technicians for the Progress of Contemporary Architecture) in Catalonia, which would lead to the constitution of the Spanish GATEPAC. More than 60 years after his passing, several of his designs continue to be produced.

He studied architecture at Barcelona School of Architecture, graduating in 1929. He began his career, while still a student, in the studio of his uncle Jaume Torres Grau and later with projects carried out in collaboration with Josep Lluís Sert, with whom he went into partnership in 1930. In 1929 he became a founding member of GATCPAC (Group of Catalan Architects and Technicians for Architectural Progress), which one year later would give rise to the establishment of the GATEPAC, on a state level. This group of professionals, immersed in the European rationalist school, arose from its need to condemn and curb the cultural decadence, in particular of design and architecture, proposing a new professional ethics which would accept a social commitment with responsibility. The group dissolved with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil Year, when most of its members had to go into exile, or were killed on the front, as in the case of Torres Clavé.

Their architectural projects include some of the most emblematic buildings of Catalan rationalism, such as the Dispensario Central Antituberculoso and the Casa Bloc, both in Barcelona, carried out in collaboration with Josep Lluís Sert and Juan Baptista Subirana. As regards his facet as a designer, his contributions began with the furniture prototypes designed for the houses of relatives and for his own residence, and ended up being fully devoted to the work carried out in the GATCPAC. These modern furniture elements were promoted from 1935 in the shop MIDVA, created together with J.L. Sert and A. Bonet, the objectives of which included promoting new designs with standardizable solutions, using the most economic materials for the application of new solutions in architecture. Both the shop MIDVA and the magazine AC (Documents of Contemporary Activity), edited by Torres Clavé himself, became the main discussion forums of the thinking of the GATCPAC.

In a letter from Josep Lluís Sert to Raimón Torres, Torres Clavé's son, he puts the importance of his colleague's work and human talent on record: [...] The years of collaboration with the GATCPAC and the CIAM, your father's enthusiasm, energy and talent, gave us all an example which kept the group active and united. The magazine AC is a result of his dedication and constant work. I cannot imagine the Casa Bloc, the Dispensari, the Ciutat de Repós, the Plà Macià and all the important works, without your father's contribution. The GATCPAC itself, as a work team, would never have come to fruition without his contribution, his enthusiastic spirit and his capacity for work and organization.

Barcelona, Spain
Bostjan, February 14th, 2021