Archivo de la etiqueta: Francoism


In 1944, the public company RENFE had been declared a construction company for the purposes of the 1939 law on subsidised housing. It therefore initiated a plan to build social housing for its workers in those areas where demand was greatest. This plan, known as the 4,000 dwellings (in reality, 3,900 were programmed), began in the midst of the autarchy with serious supply problems and with an architectural vocation that shied away from innovations in design and materials, taking refuge in the generalised use of brick as the main construction element. With these conditions, the pace of construction was not what was expected and, in 1954, when the legislative change took place, barely 1,800 dwellings had been completed. 

The new law on low-income housing of 1954 proposed a reunification of the previous regulations, an improvement in construction aid, especially for private initiatives, and streamlining the administrative action of permit and construction procedures. With the new law, RENFE assumed the need to extend its plan to 7,000 dwellings, counting the previous planned constructions. This plan, revised and published in 1956, was valued by the company as the tool that allowed it to cover the existing demand among the company’s workers. Sigue leyendo


Continuing with the use of ceramics in the construction of railway housing, regarding the floor slabs, in the first period analysed, corresponding to the construction of housing by RENFE, the so-called “autarkic” floor slabs prevailed, imposed by the restriction on the use of iron in construction (Decree 11 March 1941 (BOE no. 71 of 12 March 1941) in force until the publication of the Decree of derogation of 19 January 1956 and, subsequently, the approval of the MV 101/1962 standard, on “Actions in construction”. It should be pointed out that, despite the repealing decree, another subsequent decree was issued (Decree of 26 July 1957) which warned against the excessive use of metallic materials and that it would be advisable to issue a provision regulating their use, given the scarcity of the material. The policies of the time, in addition to the restrictions imposed, stressed the need to use traditional techniques. Along these lines, the General Directorate of Architecture called in its bulletin in 1947 for the use of traditional materials and techniques. Given the precariousness of materials and labour, the possibility of a certain guarantee and quality, albeit minimal, was seen in ceramic materials. The information bulletins of the Directorate General of Architecture (BIDGA) were published quarterly from December 1946 to the first quarter of 1957 (Pérez Escolano, 2013) and served as a chronicle of the architectural practice of the time. Essentially, these are slabs that were made with ceramic lightening elements and in situ or ceramic ribs with little reinforcement on the tensile side (one or two steel bars). The top slab, then called the “compression layer”, was 4 or 5 cm thick and had no reinforcement. There was also a variant of these slabs without an upper compression layer, which could be assembled on site or in the workshop (Muzquiz de Miguel, 1945). From the 1960s onwards, once the period of restriction had been overcome and, in our case, coincided with the dwellings built by the railway cooperatives, the type of slab that became the norm was made up of prestressed concrete joists. Between one period and another, around the 1950s and 1960s, the use of calcium aluminate cement (aluminous cement) became popular, especially in joists, which was banned for this use from 1979 onwards. To date, we have not detected its use in any of the projects analysed. In the cases under study from this first period, slab edges of between 13 and 20 cm are observed. Although the most commonly used solution is the 15 cm edge. They are made up of hollow bricks arranged every 25 cm (length), leaving a space of 5 cm for the ribs reinforced with a 12-14 mm steel bar on the lower face. The grooving of the brick walls was a guarantee of adhesion with the mortar. The most repeated dosage of mortar used was 1:2:3, using 340 kg of cement per cubic metre, and the coatings did not reach a centimetre, which is one of the most common causes of pathology detected in these slabs due to the lack of protection of the reinforcement. The regulatory requirements of the period meant that, in projects prior to 1957, any type of prefabricated slab was explicitly disdained because it was considered that “they were only weakly reinforced for rigidity before being placed in their definitive position, the reinforcement being completed afterwards with the small ribs that join them together. This, which is theoretically perfect, has the risks of prefabrication imperfections and failures due to deformations when the joists are raised to the floors”.  However, the reality is that the limitations imposed on the use of iron during the post-war period led to the lowest quality moment in the construction of floor slabs (Azpilicueta Astarloa, 2004).

Illustration 1. Self-supporting slab section of the RENFE housing group in Las Matas (Madrid). AMF, project M-5476-VP. 

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The Law on the Bases of Railway Management and Road Transport of January 24, 1941 established, among other issues, the creation of a new public company, the National Network of Spanish Railways (RENFE). This company assumed, through the rescue, as of February 1, 1941, the assets and operation of the broad-gauge railway lines, until that moment operated under a concession regime by private companies, although previously they had already been produced some partial nationalizations (Muñoz Rubio, 1995).

The new political regime born of the triumph in the Civil War of Franco’s troops, called in the law itself the National Movement, proposed a political and economic system akin to the fascist dictatorships that had developed in Europe from the 1920s, and whose main models and supporters were Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany. Thus, in addition to the establishment of a single party and a leader, the intervention of strategic production factors was proposed, which should be governed by the autarkic principles of the new State. The most relevant industrial production was integrated into the recently created National Institute of Industry (INI), including some transport activities, such as Iberia, however, RENFE was not included in this structure and it functioned with its own legal personality, but with a strong direct control of the Presidency of the Government (in those years also exercised by Franco) and the main ministries, which had representatives on the company’s Board of Directors. In addition, other bodies were created that exercised strict control of the activity of the company, such as the Commissioner for Railway Material and the Government Delegation for the Regulation of Transport (Cuéllar and García-Raya, 2015). Sigue leyendo


At the beginning of this note, it is appropriate to indicate the reasons for the chronology used, which will be common in most of the texts published in this blog related to Spanish railway housing in the second half of the 20th century. The extreme dates are marked by two laws, that of 1939, which promoted the construction of protected housing, and that of 1989, on measures to finance protected housing, which would entail a significant change in the trajectory of social housing in Spain, since that a good part of the regulatory and promotional powers would pass to the Autonomous Communities, as established by the Spanish Constitution of 1978.

Thus, in the period 1949-1989 we have been able to count the construction of some 20,000 homes for railway workers, which were largely built by the workers themselves, as cooperatives and with the aim of gaining access to a home of their own.

RENFE’s housing stock for its employees increased considerably during this period, as can be seen from the fact that, in addition to the 7,000 homes for rent, some 2,500 homes were also built on loan for strategic positions for personnel from the Circulation and Works services. In addition, the company also owned housing that had been built by the former railway companies (before 1936) and were still in use. Finally, other companies in the railway sector, of a regional or local nature, also built homes for their employees, although in a much lower number (figure 1). Sigue leyendo


The modern cooperative impulse has its roots in the implementation of the industrial revolution, when in different economic and social spheres, popular and middle classes sought collaborative networks to carry out agricultural, industrial, or service projects. In Spain, the first national congress was held in Barcelona in 1899, in which the agricultural unions and rural banks had special relevance, and in which different lectures were given on the thought of Proudhon, Ruskin, Marx, Owen and Sorel and the first cooperative experiences, which were taught by some intellectuals in Barcelona at the time (Pérez Baró, 1963).

Production cooperatives, consumer cooperatives and, to a lesser extent, housing cooperatives (referred to in those years as cheap houses) were the main study references. However, the impulse to cooperativism related to housing construction would be delayed until the second half of the 20th century, going hand in hand with real estate developmentalism that would greatly complicate the operation of these cooperatives. Sigue leyendo