Rafael Masó Foundation, Girona, Spain

Casa Masó was the birthplace of Rafael Masó (1880-1935) and represents one of his most important architectural achievements. Casa Masó is currently a house-museum operated by the Fundació Rafael Masó and It is also one of the most important works of architecture in Girona. Offering unparalleled views of the city, it is the only one of the famous houses on the Onyar River open to the public. Masó remodeled it twice, in 1910 an 1918, and is preserved with furniture and decor from the noucentista period, most of it designed by the architect himself. The house has been preserved with the furniture and decoration in Noucentisme style.

Rafael Masó i Valentí (1880-1935) was one of the most outstanding Catalan architects of the early 20th century. Masó was born in Girona into a refined, conservative, Catholic family of Catalanist ideology. The personality and professional career of the future architect were marked by the cultured atmosphere of his home, created by his father’s literary and artistic interests, as well as his own love of Girona city and its traditions. Masó was an admirer of Antoni Gaudí but, as a student in Barcelona, he joined the group of artists and writers who were to forge Noucentisme, the movement that developed as an alternative to Modernisme. The civic spirit, the Catalanist outlook, and the forward-looking, pro-European ideas prevailing within the new movement inspired the young Masó, who was also to become a distinguished poet, urban planner, politician, and promoter of art and literature.

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Rafael Masó lived in the Masó House until 1912, the year of his marriage to Esperança Bru. The bulk of his work was carried out in Girona, and his buildings are mainly in the city and the surrounding area. He designed houses, villas and apartment blocks, as well as many other types of buildings, ranging from schools and hospitals to shops and factories. He was also involved in renovating farmhouses and restoring medieval architecture. His most outstanding works include the Teixidor Flour Mill (1910), the Masó House (1911), and the Athenea cultural centre (1912), all in Girona; the Masramon House (1913) in Olot, the Casas House (1914) in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, and S’Agaró garden city (1923). Unfortunately, some of Masó’s plans never left the drawing board, as the clients did not always agree with his proposals. Moreover, after his death, certain buildings were either demolished or irreparably altered.

Rafael Masó’s work is characterized by his identification with the noucentista postulates of a modernity that did not forsake the austerity of classicism, and included forms, colors, and materials taken from the local culture, with much reliance on artisan techniques. Strongly influenced by the English Arts & Crafts movement and by the new German regionalist architecture, Masó wished to unite the tradition of vernacular architecture with new ideas on structure, ornamentation, interior decoration, and furniture design. His contribution was decisive for the introduction into Catalonia of modern concepts in housing, the updating of traditional craftsmanship, the conservation of the Catalan historic heritage, and the promotion of cultural activity.

Rafael Masó Foundation is a non-profit-making body set up in 2006 after the cession of the Masó House to Girona City Council by the architect’s nephew and his wife, the last owners of the building. It is supported by Rafael Masó’s heirs, the City Council, the Architects’ Association, the Quantity Surveyors’ Association, and the University of Girona.

As well as the conservation and the visitor management of Masó House, the Foundation also promotes research, conservation, and dissemination of Masó’s works and of Catalan Noucentisme in general. It also organizes exhibitions, publications, and educational activities for all ages in order to build awareness of the importance of architecture and urban planning for people and the society in which they live.