Domènec Sugrañes Gras

Signature of the architect  

Chalet Bonet,
in Salou 

Homage to the architect
Domènec Sugrañes Gras in Reus

Last Friday 12th of December 2003, Reus paid homage to one of one of the somewhat forgotten sons of that place: the architect Domènec Sugrañes, an outstanding collaborator of Gaudí, and the successor of the master at the head of the works of the Sagrada Familia Temple. Sugrañes held the charge of the Temple architect during 10 years, from the death of Gaudí, in 1926 until the 20th of July 1936, when the workshop Gaudí which had in the aforesaid temple was set on fire on purpose, being thus destroyed the valuable documents and plans it housed. This fact affected so deeply Mr. Sugrañes that it contributed, in a certain way, to accelerate his death in August 1938.

Doménec Sugrañes Gras was born in Reus the 12th of December 1878, now 125 years ago, in the house, then the number 2 of the Galanes street, which was demolished to widen the Town Hall, where, in the ground floor flat, his parents Domènc Sugrañes Gassol and Maria Gras Fortuny owned a confectionery named “El Globo”. He had studied the secondary school in the Institute of Reus, sited in the former Franciscan convent, where he got his diploma in June 1894, with the qualification of Excellent. He moved immediately to Barcelona, where he studied some science subjects in the University, which were indispensable to enter in the School of Architecture, -the same thing that Antoni Gaudí had done some years ago, for he was 26 years his senior.

The acquaintance between Sugrañes and Gaudí had started in 1905, when Domènec was studying the last year of architecture, -although he would not request his diploma until 1912. Since that very 1905 he worked as an assistant of Gaudí in most of his works: in the Pedrera, in Bellesguard, in the Finca Miralles, etc..., and especially in the Sagrada Familia. The ties between them became more and more tight, going beyond the professional field, and Sugrañes became the Gaudí’s trustworthy man, to the extent of the latter establishing him his testamentary executor, -explanations I concreted in my works: “Empremtes de Gaudí a Reus”, printed in 2001, and in “Reus al segle XIX”, printed in 2002.

When Gaudí was run over by a tramway the evening of the 7th of June 1926, being aware the wardens of the Sagrada Familia Temple that he didn’t return, -where, since several months ago, he even slept there-, they went to tell so in the domicile of the Sugrañes family, and the search was organised from there. This way was reminded some days ago by his son, Ramon Sugrañes de Franch in an interview granted in Barcelona to the journalist Tate Cabré, which was published in the “Diari de Tarragona”, where, in remembering the event of the death of Gaudí, he underlined the great esteem that his father felt towards Don Antón, as he called him, and he also told her how, like most of Sundays, when he was a child, he used to go with his father to the breakwater in the Port of Barcelona so as to meet Gaudí and to promenade with him.

The Domènech Sugrañes esteem towards Gaudí was clear in two splendid appraisals which the former wrote about his master, immediately after his death, in two publications. The first one, in August 1926 in the “Revista del Centre de Lectura”, -an article I transcribed in my two books previously cited, in the pages. 148 and 149 of “Empremtes” and in the pages 259 and 260 of “Reus al segle XIX”. The second one, in the “Anuario del Col·legi d’Arquitectes” of 1927. –some paragraphs are also transcribed in the page 150 of “Empremtes” and in the page 261 of “Reus al segle XIX”.

Presently, thanks to Mr. Sugrañes, are preserved in the Salvador Vilaseca Museum in Reus a group of possessions and gaudinian documents sent there by him, in 1933, most of them were exposed by me, photocopied, in my two books formerly cited, before being them shown to the public in the magnificent exhibition Gaudí & Reus in 2002. –It appears exactly in the chapter VII of “Empremtes” from page 135 to 146, and in the chapter VII of “Reus al segle XIX”, from page 262 to266.

The architect Sugrañes, apart from the collaborations made in the gaudinist creations, he designed and directed the construction of a great deal of de elegant buildings, belonging to different styles, especially Modernism and Noucentisme, -to this latter style preferably in the twenties and thirties decades of the XX century. Buildings designed by Sugrañes, most of them in Barcelona, among them the Balmes Piarist School, the Diagonal Tuset Hotel, the Monumental bullring, etc... Buildings in Capellades, the birthplace of his wife, Mrs. Francesca de Franch Capdevila, also of buildings in Mollet del Vallès. There is in Reus a good sample of his noucentista style in the Mas Llevat, -in the Munta y Baixa-, and in the widening and reform of the Casa Pellicer, -in the Prat de la Riba avenue -. He designed in Salou a series of chalets in the first range of the seaside, where he used modernist motifs, such as the chalet Bonet, which has plenty of trencadís, the chalet Marisol/Solimar and the Loperena one, among others. Also in Salou, he designed the complex “Sol i Mar” y “Mar i Sol”, -parking places for the holidaymakers, which were recently about to be demolished. He designed in Cambrils the chalet “Verd i blau” (“Green and Blue”).

Apart from his creations, either his collaboration ones with Gaudí or his own ones, it must be highlighted that he was a teacher in the “Escola del Treball de Barcelona”, created by the Mancomunitat de Catalunya, in the School of Architecture, in the Ateneu Politècnic, in the Ateneu Enciclopèdic Popular and even in the Sagrada Familia Parish School. He wrote articles in several magazines and he published the work “Architecture and modern construction”, in 1923.

In July 2003 in the chalet Bonet in Salou took place the presentation of a leaflet of the Magazine of the “Col·legi d’Arquitectes”, where the contribution made by Sugrañes to the Modernism was dealt. In December 2003 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of his birth, in Reus, it was inaugurated, in the afternoon of the day 12, a plate, being presided the act by the most illustrious mayor of Reus, Mr. Lluís Miquel Pérez i Segura, in the very building of the Reus Town Hall. Immediately, in the Salvador Vilaseca Museum in Reus, Mr. Joan Figuerola Mestre, architect, gave a lecture re-examining the links between Gaudí and Sugrañes, and he analysed the architecture designed by Sugrañes.

We wish that this recent and deserved homage to the architect Sugrañes, together with all the allusions to his collaborations in the works by Gaudí made during the Gaudí Year 2002 and in part of 2003 in our city, will contribute to value and divulge his worthiness, as being deserved to be an illustrious native from Reus.

Mª Teresa Pitarch i Morell

Dr. in Philosophy and Sciences of Education
Reus, December 2003

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