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  Name   Álvaro Joaquim de Melo Siza Vieira
  Born   June 25, 1933
  Nationality   Portugal
  Official website    

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

Siza’s architecture is strongly rooted in the Modern movement, but incorporates a subjective approach to concept and design, seeking alternative interpretations of modernism. Siza has stated, “Architecture is increasingly a problem of use and reference to models…. My architecture does not have a preestablished 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 conditions of the place of Siza’s architecture are of profound importance to this thinking in addition to cultural and social concerns. In 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. His built works strive to integrate conflicting demands and affinities, often embodying points of tension that exist in a delicate balance.

For Siza, a building is at the same time autonomous and responsive, unified and diversified. He eschews using technology for technology’s sake and employs local materials such as stucco, brick, and stone—all traditional building materials that he uses to create abstract compositions.

His swimming pools (1966) located in Leça 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 his 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, respecting 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 Siza to plan a housing project in the rural outskirts of the town. It was to be one of several that he would do for the national housing association, consisting of 1,200 low-cost row houses, some one-story and some two-story 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, Siza was 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 fits 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, 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 Revellín Cultural Centre in Ceuta, Portugal (1997).

Other outstanding, widely published projects of Siza’s include the Aveiro University Library at 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).




25 June 193 Born in 3 in Matosinhos, just north of Porto in Portugal;

1949–55 Studied architecture at University of Porto, School of Architecture;

1954 Opened his own atelier in Porto;

1950s–1960s began his career by designing smaller works, mainly residences in the late ;

1955–58 Collaborated with Portuguese architect Fernando Tavora;

1966 began teaching at University of Porto;

1976 became full professor at University of Porto;

has taught and lectured outside Portugal at Harvard University, the École Poytechnique of Lausanne, Switzerland, and Los Andes University of Bogota.

1992 Awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.



Alvaro Siza 1954–1988. A+U Extra Edition Tokyo: A+U, (June 1989)

Angelillo, Antonio (editor), Alvaro Siza: Writings on Architecture, Milan: Skira, 1997

Dos Santos, José Paolo, editors, Alvaro Siza: Works and Projects, 1954–1992, Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1994

Fleck, Brigitte. Alvaro Siza, Basel and Boston: Birkhäuser, 1992

Frampton, Kenneth, Alvaro Siza: Tutte le Opere, Milan: Electa, 1999

Jodidio, Philip, Alvaro Siza (Architecture & Design Series), Koln and London: Taschen, 1999

De Llano, Pedro and Carlos Castanheira. Alvaro Siza. Madrid: Sociedad Editorial Electa España, 1995

Siza, Alvaro, Alvaro Siza, Arquitecto: Centro de Art Contemporanea de Galicia, Galicia, Spain: Xunta de Galicia, 1993

Testa, Peter, The Architecture of Alvaro Siza. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T., 1984

Testa, Peter, Alvaro Siza, Basel and Boston: Birkhäuser, 1996

Wang, Wilfired, et al., Alvaro Siza, City Sketches. Basel and Boston: Birkhäuser, 1994














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