Manuel Valls Vergés was born in Barcelona on 3 February, 1912. His father was a doctor and he originally wanted to be one too but in 1929, as a first-year student in the school of medicine, he visited the Barcelona International Expo and saw the Mies Van der Rohe pavilion: “Upon seeing the new materials and the beautiful things that could be made”, he decided to become an architect.
He received his degree in architecture in 1940. A year later, he set up his studio with Jose Antonio Coderch. This partnership would last until the 60s, as they became part of the “first post-war generation”. His initial architectural phase was characterised primarily by constructing small, single-family homes on the coast of Catalonia. The simple shapes and whitewashed walls would reach their ultimate expression in the Ugalde House, near Barcelona, in 1951. This construction of extreme simplicity is one of the most admired works of Spanish architecture from the past fifty years. For Manuel Valls Vergés, luxury came through the quality of the construction
“We were in the same year as Coderch in university. Then we received our degrees, and once you get that, you have to find an office, a telephone, table, pencil and paper and look for clients. Plus, with Coderch, we got to be good friends. He was an upstanding individual and he did good work. We got on”
In 1960 he received the FAD Architecture Prize and began teaching at the Barcelona School of Architecture.
“The thrill of being a professor at an architecture school lies in getting a dose of vitality and a desire to do things from so many students, because you’re not at a meeting of alumni, and that’s nice, right? And the experience that we had we could pass on to our students. The course I had involved doing projects, they had to check material strengths, the location, terrain, orientation, type of dwelling…”
In 1982 he received the Gold Medal from the C.O.A.C. (Catalan Society of Architects), and in 2000 he passed away. He is buried in the cemetery of Arenys de Mar, where he had been the town architect for 23 years.
Foremost among his works with Jose Antonio Coderch are the following:
1952 – Casa Catasús – Sitges / Building in La Barceloneta – Barcelona
1953 – Casa Dionisi – Sitges / Apartment building on Bach Street – Barcelona
1957 – Casa Ballvé – Camprodón
1956 – Casa Catasús – Sitges