Tres miradas al Madrid de Luis Gutiérrez Soto
Luis Gutiérrez Soto (1900-1977) was one of the most prolific architects of his time and although his name might be unknown to many, without him Madrid would not have the urban landscape that it has now. Up to 650 architectural projects carry his signature, most of them in our city.
Of a rationalist style and belonging to the Generation of ‘25, many of his works are still intact today. Others, like the old building in Barajas Airport have been lost. Of the more than 20 buildings and projects of his that still remain in Madrid, we’ve chosen the most emblematic ones of each of his artistic phases.
1) Eclecticism: Cine Callao (1926)
His first work is located on Plaza del Callao, just a few yards from our hotel. Experts locate it artistically inside Spanish Neo-baroque, where certain academic trends stand out as do the art-deco-style interiors. The most characteristic element of the complex is the lighthouse-esque tower that crowns the corner of the Gran Vía with Plaza del Callao.
Also of this time are the Cinema Conde Duque (1926), Cinema Europa (1928) and many other cinemas in Madrid that have now disappeared.
2) Rationalism: Cine Barceló (1931)
On number 11 of Calle Barceló, Gutiérrez Soto designed a Rationalist-style building with a facade structured in horizontal strips and gaps. It used to be a cinema but today it has become a nightlife venue.
Academics point out that the building has clear influences from Mendelssohnian architecture, also known as Spanish Expressionist Rationalism, the style that the architect developed in his works during the first half of the 1930s: Barajas Airport, Bar Chicote and numerous housing in the Argüelles and Chamberí districts.
3) Monumentalism: Air Force Headquarters (1943-1958)
The Cuartel General del Aire is the old Air Force Ministry, perhaps one of the most impressive buildings by Gutiérrez Soto. Of Neo-herrerian style, the complex stands out for its facade made of bare bricks, where we can count 1225 windows and 253 balconies. More than 100 attics overlook from the slate roofs, finished with four high towers with splendid capitals.
It was impressive right from the start of its construction, known amongst locals as the Air Force Monastery due to its similarities with the Monastery of El Escorial. During those years, Gutiérrez Soto also designed the old Hotel Richmond in Madrid or the Tower of El Retiro (1972).
Photo (CC) David Gordillo | Written by Laura Blanco