As dictator, Franco built a cemetery with slave labour and orphanages for his murdered enemies’ children. Then Spain discovered tourism

... and the lager louts flew in 


The civil war and Franco’s collaboration seemed to get lost in a fog of international amnesia. This amnesia was encouraged by America’s strategic friendship of convenience: financial assistance in return for land on which to build airbases. Ideology could be suspended in exchange for white goods, jukeboxes, two-tone cars.

The government was increasingly influenced by the lay Catholic organisation Opus Dei and its so-called technocrats, judicious pragmatists determined to open Spain to the world beyond the Pyrenees known as the continent. The architectural work of the Opus Dei member Miguel Fisac was part of that process. Spain was trying to achieve what would be internationally recognised as a sort of normality: fascism was, by the mid 1950s, a freakish outlier from a past that was to be ignominiously buried, along with its victims. The appetite for recrimination was frail.

One of the few things buildings can articulate is newness, a prospect of a progressive future. Fisac’s quite wonderful Pagoda, which anyone arriving at Madrid airport and driving into the city could not help but see, was an unequivocal message that Spain had caught up at last, it was modern. And the modern state vandalises. This great building was demolished three decades after it was built.

Infrastructure tends to endure more. Land colonies in the form of new villages were built in the 1950s and 60s under the direction of the agromomist Rafael Cavestany.