Donald Gray

Donald gray was born in Australia in 1935. After a period in England he began living in Spain. He settled in Andalusia in 1961 at a time when the towns and villages and especially the coast of Andalusia were of extraordinary beauty. The simple elegance of the ordinary houses and the baroque magnificence of the churches and palaces engendered in Gray a craving to know about this tradition of architecture, how it functioned and to be able to design and build in accord with it. At that time the master builders, maestros de obras with their inherited knowledge of building and of the proportions applied to the organization of doors, windows. “portadas” and roofing succeeded in achieving a pleasing harmony not now found. The maestros de obras were in effect the architects of the majority of average sized buildings.

Gray chose to learn from the maestros de obras what could no longer be learnt in the university based schools of architecture. When he began his studies and investigations under the guidance of the maestro de obras working with him on the first houses he built in Almuñecar the new industrial architecture was already arriving in Andalusia… Blocks of flats, kitch bungalows poisoning the visual experience of this beautiful region. The new architectural theory taught in most universities brought about the total destruction of most towns and the entire coastal area.

In 1963 he began building a small “urbanización” of 11 houses. This was a success and sold quickly. He followed this with a larger development in La Herradura. This being also a success it seemed that people liked the native style. Great investments however were being made in industrial type developments which were baptized modern or contemporary or even progressive. This progress continued until we now have the modern Costa Del Sol.Gray kept on with his native style developments. This was becoming difficult because of it being increasingly hard to find traditional craftsmen. The new way of building had little use for them. By the end of the seventies there were practically none left. For this reason Gray dedicated four years as artistic director of a school in Lebrija aiming at teaching these crafts to young people. Good results were achieved.

Gray now lives in the mountains south of Granada.