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During the twentieth century, diverse cultures from around the globe served as vital sources for architects who attempted to merge Modernist ideas with traditional values. Richard Neutra (1892–1970) absorbed ideas from Japan, the American Middle West and his own native Austria, and eventually his study of these regions deeply affected his work. By analysing archival sources and period publications, this article reveals that even before emigrating to the United States (1923), and throughout his career, the cultures of California, Latin America and Spain were also sources for Neutra's work. He travelled extensively throughout these regions, he researched their local customs and architecture and he deftly and purposefully incorporated vernacular elements, such as sun-shading devices, ventilation strategies and interior patios, into his own work. For his Latin American and Spanish colleagues, his work exemplified a successful fusion between their own traditions and Modernist principles.
During the decades that followed the loss in 1898 of Spain's last colony, Spanish architecture languished in a turbulent search for identity. In this search, some architects argued for a return to the historic architecture of the Spanish colonial empire, while others followed the progressive ideas of the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM). Finally, in the mid-1940s, Spain's architects began to progress towards a successful reconciliation of these two seemingly opposed camps. A critical moment occurred in 1947 with the publication of Fernando Chueca Goitia's watershed text Invariantes Castizos de la Arquitectura Española (Genuine Invariants of Spanish Architecture). In this text, which Chueca conceived as a pocket reference for Spain's Modern architects, he described Spain as a unique place where the diverse architecture of Christian Europe and Islamic North Africa coalesced into a new — and essentially Spanish — whole. In it, he called on Spain's architects to move beyond superficial considerations of both history and modernity, and to arrive at a genuine, self-critical identity for Spanish architecture.
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