Joan Baptista Subirana

1904 in Rosario, Argentina
1978 in Barcelona, Spain

Joan Baptista Subirana was a Spanish architect. He studied architecture in Barcelona, Madrid and Berlin.

At the outset of his career, he won a competition to build a series of low-cost houses organized by the City Council of Valencia. He also constructed another set of affordable housing units in Cartagena, as well as a series of school complexes in Madrid and Valladolid. He organized the Spanish pavilion at the International Exhibition of Urban Housing and Construction in Berlin in 1931. Additionally, he was commissioned by the Government of Catalonia to design a project for the regional hospital organization of the Principality.

During the 1930s, he was a member of GATCPAC (Group of Catalan Architects and Technicians for the Progress of Contemporary Architecture).

Subirana collaborated closely with Josep Lluís Sert and Josep Torres Clavé during these years, together producing two works that stood as the finest examples of rationalism in Barcelona: Casa Bloc (1932-1936) and the Central Antitubercular Dispensary (1934-1938).

In 1932, he collaborated with Fernando García Mercadal on a Rest City project for the beaches of Jarama (Madrid), which was not realized. In 1934, he designed a Detachable Children's Library with Torres Clavé and Sert, with a prototype exhibited in the Plaza de las Palmeras in Barcelona. That year, he was also commissioned to reform and expand hospitals in Badalona, Vic, Igualada, Manresa, Viella, and Palafrugell, although these projects were halted by the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1936, he collaborated with Sert and Torres Clavé on a project for an Antitubercular Hospital in the Valle de Hebrón, which was not executed.

He also participated with other GATCPAC members in several urban planning projects, such as the Macià Plan (1932-1935), which envisioned a functional distribution of the city with a new geometric order through major thoroughfares and a new seafront with skyscrapers, in addition to improving facilities and services, promoting public housing, and creating a large park and leisure center near the Llobregat delta, known as the Rest and Vacation City. The onset of the Civil War thwarted the project.

Another project was the Old Town Sanitation Plan (1935-1937), an attempt to renew the Ciutat Vella district by demolishing blocks considered unhealthy, expanding urban space, and creating hygienic facilities, all supported by decisive public intervention, which facilitated the decree in 1937, during the Civil War, of the municipalization of urban property.

During these years, he also collaborated with the magazine A.C. Documentos de Actividad Contemporánea (1931-1937), directed by Torres Clavé, based on avant-garde magazines such as Das Neue Frankfurt, directed by Ernst May, or L'Esprit Nouveau, by Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant.

After the Civil War, he was disqualified from public office by the College of Architects of Catalonia due to GATCPAC's affiliation with the Republican Government, but he was able to continue practicing his profession.

Among his other works, it is worth mentioning: the Orphea Films Film Studios, the Bagdad room on Avenida del Paralelo, the American Cafeteria Kansas on Paseo de Gracia, the Pedro Monje Philately on Calle de Ferran, laboratories and a cologne factory on Calle Numancia, several service stations and garages in Barcelona, Badalona, Mataró, Pamplona, and Madrid, workers' housing in Campdevánol, and various villas in Figaró, San Hilario Sacalm, and Sant Feliu del Racó.



Barcelona, Spain
Apartment block