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The Sailing Club by Aizpurúa & Labayen #José Manuel Aizpurúa


The Royal Sailing Club of San Sebastian, built by the Basque Rationalist architect José Manuel Aizpurúa and his partner Joaquín Labayen in 1929, is one of the most renowned pieces in the early Spanish modern architecture. It was published in the Madrid-based magazine Arquitectura and in AC, the journal of the GATEPAC, the association for modern architecture that Aizpurúa and Labayen belong to, but also in German, Dutch and French architectural journals. It was also the only Spanish work to be included in the publication The International Style, where Henry Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson found the standard for modern architecture.

The Sailing Club consisted of a structure of exposed columns with recessed walls that allowed protruding floor slabs, being the most important a semi-circular ending slab that gave the building its characteristic ship shape. The club’s interior was open to the exterior by a horizontal strip of windows and the different rooms in the main floor were continuous, only separated by some curtains, glass panes and specifically designed furniture.

(…) the man that makes a piece of furniture for meeting a purpose, and set it in a purpose-made space that also meets a purpose, the gathering of these elements as a whole will fulfil the use it was meant for. José Manuel Aizpurúa, “¿Cuándo habrá Arquitectura?”, La Gaceta Literaria, Madrid, 1 de marzo de 1930.

The furniture that they used in these rooms had got an important role enhancing the spatial continuity and the lightness that the structure expressed. In the restaurant they displayed the tubular steel chairs that Mies van der Rohe designed for the Dwelling Exhibition in Stuttgart in 1927. The lightness of this chair participated in the visual continuity along a single fluent, open space.