After the Spanish Civil War, the images of victory and retreat sat in stark contrast. Opposite the view of exiles and disorganisation, the rendering of the triumphant victors catches the eye for the stress it placed on the strict spatial organisation of the marches celebrating victory. From the nameless mass fleeing in exile to the extolment of individuality among the victors; from the destruction left behind by the Republicans and refugee camps as uninhabitable spaces to the reconstruction of the country promoted by its new government.
The new regime would become aware of art’s role in its mission to formalise victory. Architecture, in form and content, would realise this idea in the 1940s with official projects promoted by the Franco regime. Although an official style would run through the dictatorship, connected to Herrerian- and El Escorial-style forms and representing a marked regression in contrast to the innovative championing of architecture projected during the Second Republic, a more modern language would be discernible in the practice of some of the architects working during the regime.
Salient in the most important projects of the time, with an unmistakeable triumphalist intent, was the conversion of the location of Cuelgamuros, eventually known as Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen). Of the different proposals submitted at the Tender of Preliminary Designs for the Great Cross at the National Monument of the Fallen, the design put forward by Luis Moya, Enrique Huidobro and Manuel Thomas, with its cross emulating a large shrine, came out on top: the cross as the symbol of a new era would rise up in triumph, almost castigating the laity of the Republic. For this same tender, a young Francisco de Asís Cabrero submitted a proposal with undeniable influences from the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana by Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Lapadula and Mario Romano but was rejected over not being a qualified architect when the tender was held.
Years later, Cabrero would return to win another tender, at the request of the regime, for the project to build the Casa Sindical de Madrid in 1949. Based on a blueprint realised solely by Cabrero, he and Rafael Aburto adapted the definitive design which, once again, shared similarities with the fascist architecture of Mussolini and was chosen over designs presented by other architects, including José Antonio Coderch.