Considered one of the greatest Portuguese architects of all time, Álvaro Siza was awarded, in 1992, with the renowned Pritzker Prize for architecture. However, his career as an architect began much earlier, during his studies at the School of Architecture of Porto .
Born on a day like today, 81 years ago, in the coastal town of Matosinhos, Siza began his studies in 1949, despite his willingness to be a sculptor. He put these aspirations to an end to in 1955, a year after his first work was built.
In the fifties, Siza commisioned several of his works, and here you can see his great ability to integrate his projects into a landscape. Among his works are occasional low-cost housing projects, his famous parish centre, a tourist office, Boa Nova Tea House and Pool at Leca de Palmeira; his most renowned piece.
Although his works are associated with minimalism, they are often based on expressionism, as can be seen in his more formal compositions.
In 1966, Siza begins to work as a professor at the School of Architecture of Porto (ESBAP) and, ten years later, obtained a position as associate professor of construction.
However, his career in academia is not limited to Portugal, universities like Harvard and the Ecole Polytechnique of Lausanne have had him as a guest lecturer. Among others, Siza is in possession of the Alvar Aalto Award, the Prize for Contemporary Architecture, the Praemium Imperiale, the Riba Gold Medal and the Golden Lion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. (Photo by Manuel de Sousa)
The Iberê Camargo Foundation, built in 2007, was chosen by competition for the design of a building to exhibit the collection of the Siza, but more importantly for Brazil.
Siza explains: ’It was a beautiful and very difficult place. That made it even more interesting’. Located on a narrow plot in Porto Alegre , in southern Brazil, this museum powerfully manifests in its environment. The building consists of five levels with different book stores that double up as exhibition halls, an auditorium, an administrative area, workshops and has essential parking. Despite being close to the Guaiba River, Siza only opened small holes for viewing, he said ’A museum needs some internalisation, because the need for exhibition walls requires its own environment with controlled light, like inside an office. And because if you look, you're bound to see a beautiful landscape. You cannot longer deny the landscapes beauty, but she also needs her privacy’ . One of the constants that we can see reflected in this work is, in the words of Siza, light, and the control of light. Lighting can not invade the space must be low and controlled. (Photo by Eduardo Aigner)