Alvaro Siza

Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza (Alvaro Joaquim Melo Siza Viera), is one of the best-known Portuguese architects of the 20th century. Although Alvaro Siza produced numerous projects for clients in Portugal (houses, schools, and other instututions), it was not until the 1980s that Alvaro Siza began to recieve recognition through exhibitions and commissions in other European countries.

Alvaro Siza's architecture is strongly rooted in the Modern movement, but incorporates a subjective approach to concept and design, seeking alternative interpretations of modernism. Alvaro Siza has stated, "Architecture is increasingly a problem of use and reference to models... My architecture does not have a pre-established language and does not establish a language. It is a response to a concrete problem, a situation in transformation in which I participate."

The geographic and climatic contitions of the place of Alvaro Siza's architecture are of profound importance to this thinking in addition to cultural and social concerns. In Alvaro Siza's oeuvre sensitivity to context does not result in nostalgic historicism or critical regionalism. It is rather a unique approach to a universal language transformed to respond to a local situation. Alvaro Siza's built works strive to integrate conflicting demands and affinities, often embodying poins of tension that exist in a delicate balance.

For Alvaro Siza, a building is a. the same lime autonomous and responsive, unified and diversified. Alvaro Siza eschews using technology for technology's sake and employs local materials such as stucco, brick, and stone - all traditional building materials that Alvaro Siza uses to create abstract compositions.

Alvaro Siza's swimming pools (1966) located in Leca de Palmeira, a small town near Porto, were his first projects to receive acclaim outside Portugal. These seaside pools easily make the transition from man-made concrete to the natural rock formations, creating sublime bathing pools. The changing rooms are in an unobtrusive pavilion of concrete with wood roofs that guide the visitor through a corridor-like space before opening on to the expansive sea.

The Pinto e Sotto Maior Bank (1974) in Oliveira de Azmeis, a small town in northern Portugal, is very representative of Alvaro Siza's early work. This small building does not adopt the formal architectural vocabulary of the place but rather creates a dialogue with its surroundings. The curved, glass facade looks out on to the square, however, creating a formal juxtaposition with the traditional forms of the square. Another bank building, the Borges and Irmao Bank (1986) in Vila do Conde, Portugal, takes a similar approach. It is both a separate entity and a participant in the townscape, respecing the scale of its surroundings. From the outside little is revealed of the character of the interior. However, the space flows because of the visual connection between floors.

In 1977 following the revolution in Portugal, the local government of Evora commissioned Alvaro Siza to plan a housing project in the rural outskirts of the town. It was to be one of several that Alvaro Siza would do for the national housing association, consisting of 1,200 low-cost, row houses, some one-story and some twostory units, all with courtyards. The layout, of the new section gave order to an area at the periphery of the town while connecting it with existing housing areas.

During the 1980s, Alvaro Siza asked to undertake increasingly larger institutional projects, such as the School of Architecture (1992) at Porto University in Porto, the Teachers Training College (1991) at Setubal, and the Centro Galiziano (Museum of Modern Art, 1994) in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, located within the historical city.

This Centro Galiziano building fots into a complicated and historic site employing concepts of integration and contrast. The reductive elongated form of the museum - produced by two adjacent wings - seeks to create classical order in an area that had suffered decline. The granite exterior contrasts with the stark white interior. Once again, Alvaro Siza has approached the work with sensitivity to context without relinquishing the autonomy and strength of the new construction. Other notable museum projects include the addition to the Serralves Foundation and Museum in Porto (1999), the renovation and extension to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1997), and the Manzana del Revellin Cultural Centre in Ceuta, Portugal (1997).

Other outstanding, widely published projects of Alvaro Siza's include die Aveiro University Library a. Aveiro, Portugal (1994); the Vitra factory at Weil-am-Rein, Germany (1994); Schlesisches Tor Apartments at Kreuzberg, Germany (1983); the Portuguese Pavilion at Expo '98 in Lisbon, Portugal (1998); the Santa Maria Church in Marco de Canavezes, Portugal (1997).


Born in 25 June 1933 in Matosinhos, just north of Porto in Portugal. Studied architecture at University of Porto, School of Architecture (1949-55). Opened his own atelier in Porto (1954) and began Alvaro Siza's career by designing smaller works, mainly residences in the late 1950s-1960s. Collaborated will) Portuguese architect Fernando Tavora (1955-58); began leaching at University of Porto (1966); became full professor (1976-present); has taught and lectured outside Portugal at Harvard University, the Ecole Poytechniquc of Lausanne, Switzerland, and Los Andes University of Bogota. Awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize (1992).
Major works:
Swimming pools, Leca de Palmeira, Poriugal, 1966
Alves Santos House, Povoa do Varzim, Portugal, 1969
Pinto e Sotto Maior Bank, Oliveira de Azmeis, Poriugal, 1974
J.M. Teixeira House, Taipas Guimaraes, Portugal, 1980
Borges and Irmao Hank, Vila do Conde, Portugal, 1986
"Joao de Deus" Kindergarten, Penafiel, Portugal, 1988
Residential complex Schilderswijk West, The Hague. Netherlands, 1988
School of Architecture, Porto University in Porto, 1992
Teachers Training College, Setubal, Portugal, 1991
Vitra Factory, Weil-am-Rein, Germany, 1994
Centro Galiziano (Museum of Modern Art), Santiago de Compostela, Spain 1994
Manzana del Revellin Cultural Centre, Ceuta, Portugal, 1997
Architect's Office, Porto, 1998
Boavista Residential Complex, Porto, 1998
Serrakves Museum and Foundation, Porto, 1999
1. Alvaro Siza 1954-1988.
2. A+U Extra Edition Tokyo: A+U, (June 1989).
3. Angelillo, Antonio (editor), Alvaro Siza: Writings on Architecture, Milan Skira, 1997
4. Dos Santos, Jose Paolo, (editors). Alvaro Siza: Works and Projects, 1954-1992,
5. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1994 Fleck Brigitte, Alvaro Siza, Basel and Boston: Birkhauser, 1992
6. Frampton Kenneth, Alvaro Siza: Tutte le Opere, Milan Electa, 1999
7. Jodidio Philip, Alvaro Siza (Architecture & Design Series), Koln and London, Taschen, 1999
8. De Llano, Pedro and Carlos Castanheira, Alvaro Siza, Madrid, Sociedad Editorial Electa Espana, 1995
9. Siza, Alvaro, Alvaro Siza, Arquiucto: Centro de Art Contemporanea de Galicia, Galicia, Spain, Xunta de Galicia, 1993
10. Testa Peter, The Architecture of Alvaro Siza, Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T., 1984
11. Testa, Peter, Alvaro Siza, Basel and Boston, Birkhauser, 1996
12. Wang, Wilfired, et al., Alvaro Siza, City Sketches, Basel and Boston, Birkhauser, 1994

Some books about Alvaro Siza

Alvaro Siza: GA Document Extra 11
Alvaro Siza 1954-1976
Alvaro Siza: Writings on Architecture
The Pritzker Architecture Prize 1992: Presented to Alvaro Siza
Alvaro Siza. Das Gesamtwerk.
Alvaro Siza - Casas 1954-2004
Siza, Alvaro - Obra Completa
Francesco Venezia
Profesion Poetica - Profissao Poetica
An interview with Alvaro Siza: An article from: Mosaic : a Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature
Architecture of Alvaro Siza (Quaderni Di Lotus/Lotus Documents, 6)
A arquitectura de Alvaro Siza = The architecture of Alvaro Siza
Interview with AIlvaro Siza Vieira (Archidea) (Archidea)
The architecture of Alvaro Siza (Thresholds)
Alvaro Siza em Matosinhos (Conferencias de Matosinhos)
Architekten--Alvaro Siza Vieira (IRB-Literaturauslese)

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