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2008 Ibere Camargo Foundation

Posted on 28 October 2010 by Alvaro


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New Iberê Camargo Foundation headquarters open its doors

4The new building of the Iberê Camargo Foundation is sited in a narrow plot, nearby the Guaíba River. The museum is mainly defined by its vertical volume where the exhibition rooms are located, from which are raised suspended, undulating arms in white concrete – somewhat resonant of the iconic concrete reveries of Lina Bo Bardi. This is the first project by Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza built in Brazilian territory and was honoured by the Venice Architecture Biennale with the Golden Lion award in 2002.

A large exhibit of work by the painter Iberê Camargo, displayed in the building’s nine art galleries, marks Porto Alegre’s inauguration of the first project by Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza in Brazil

The Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza returned to Porto Alegre on the beginning of this year for one of his final visits to his first building designed in Brazil, which will house more than half a century’s output of paintings, drawings, gouaches and prints by Iberê Camargo, who is considered to be one of Brazil’s most important artists of the 20th century.

The architect was in the state capital to concern himself in the final details of the project, such as the development and production of the building’s furnishings, which he has also designed. The Portuguese architect is meticulous about every detail of the building, believing that harmony is fundamental in a work. “Although each detail is important, the governing feature is the totality. Equilibrium is the underlying quality for architecture,” he says.

The new Iberê Camargo Foundation headquarters opens in the end of may and is intended to preserve the collection of more than four thousand works by the master of Brazilian expressionism and to be a major center for discussion, research and exhibition of modern and contemporary art, placing Porto Alegre and Brazil on the route of the world’s major centers of culture.

In 2002, The project won the biggest international architecture prize – The Golden Lion Award – at the 2003 Venice Architecture Biennial. The maquette toured to the main state capitals in Brazil, together with a touring exhibition of Iberê’s work in 2003 -2004. It has also been to the Milan Triennale at the Museum of Fine Art in Bordeaux, and is included in a touring exhibition of Álvaro Siza’s work which is traveling the world.

Construction budget of the new headquarters for the Iberê Camargo Foundation, whose president is Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter, is 30 million reais. Building started in July 2003 on a 8,250-m2 site facing the Guaíba (Av. Padre Cacique 2,000 donated by the city council and sponsored by Grupo Gerdau, Petrobras, RGE, Vonpar, Itaú, De Lage Landen and Instituto Camargo Correa. RGE, Grupo Gerdau, Petrobras, Camargo Correa, De Lage Landen and Vonpar. Building is following a precise schedule, which concludes with the opening of the headquarters, forecast for November 2007, and a major exhibition of the painter, who is recognized as one of the major Brazilian artists of the 20th century.

The building will put Porto Alegre on the map of important centers of modern and contemporary art in the country. It has nine exhibition rooms, spread across the three upper floors. The main access level will house the reception, café, cloakrooms, cultural shop and a massive atrium which will provide views of the upper floors and will also be used for exhibitions.

The basement area contains all the building infrastructure, including parking for 100 vehicles, a 125-seater auditorium with cinema facilities, Iberê’s print studio and rooms for courses and workshops. It will also contain a reference, research and information center for the huge collection of 4,000 of the artist’s works, with a specialized library, database, video library and reading room, intended for national and international researchers and publishing work.

The basement also contains the utilities area and the technical reserve, used for housing the air-conditioning system and the sewer treatment network. Access to the car park is through an underpass beneath Avenida Padre Cacique, connecting both sides of the road to facilitate visitor entry and exit. All the entrances to the new Iberê Camargo Foundation headquarters also meet the requirements of people with special needs. Ramps and elevators have been designed to offer ease of access from garage level upwards.

Innovative technology and ecological trails

The building for the new Iberê Camargo Foundation headquarters is an international landmark in architecture and engineering solutions. One of the design’s innovative features is its reinforced-concrete construction throughout, without the use of bricks or sealing elements, forming curved outlines like a great sculpture to feature the form and movement of the ramps built on all floors. It is the only building in the country to be built entirely from white concrete, which dispenses with painting and finishing and also brings it a feeling of lightness. All the power and service ducts are inside the walls, insulated with fiberglass, allowing the installation of permanent or temporary dimmable sockets and lighting anywhere in the rooms.

Indoor temperature and humidity are managed by an intelligent monitoring control to ensure protection of the collection. The air-conditioning system will produce ice at night, when electricity costs are lower, for cooling the space during the day, reducing operational costs.

The design devotes special attention to the environment. A sewage treatment station will treat all the solid and liquid waste on site. The treated water from this process will be used for irrigating the surrounding green space. In partnership with the Gaia Foundation, special care is being given to the 16,000-m2 native forest behind the building. A 200-meter path has been defined in the forest to allow visitors to link art with nature.

Álvaro Siza, an international reference

Álvaro Siza is one of the most important contemporary architects in the world, with work in several different countries. His designs include the Museu Serralves in Oporto, and the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, in Santiago de Compostela. The new Iberê Camargo Foundation Headquarters will be his first project in Brazil. Siza was chosen after consultation which considered the innovative nature of the architectural plan and the international standing of its architect.

The architect is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science and Honorary Fellow of Royal Institute of British Architects, the Academie d´Architecture de France and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He won the Pritzker Award, from the Hyatt Foundation in Chicago, considered the Nobel of the arts, in 1992, for his oeuvre. Siza has played an active role in the most important architectural works in the world, including the Barcelona Olympiad and Expo 98 in Lisbon. He was part of the team that restored the Chiado, the old part of Lisbon attacked by fire.

More about the project

The project won the biggest international architecture prize – The Golden Lion Award – at the 2003 Venice Architecture Biennial. The maquette toured to the main state capitals in Brazil, together with a touring exhibition of Iberê’s work in 2003 -2004. It has also been to the Milan Triennale at the Museum of Fine Art in Bordeaux, and is included in a touring exhibition of Álvaro Siza’s work which is traveling the world.

30,000 cubic meters of earth were excavated and donated to the Municipal Highway Works Department (SMOV) to be used for paving the city’s poorer settlements.

Excavation was carried out without using explosives. In partnership with the a Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), a splitting plan was found in which the rocks were broken down, allowing them to be removed with pneumatic equipment. This enabled the builder, Camargo Corrêa to complete the predicted 12-month process of earth removal four months early.

There has been considerable concern with the surroundings since the start, and the Iberê Camargo Foundation has therefore proposed to correct the distorted bend in the Avenida Padre Cacique to increase road safety near the site.

Construction is generating 100 direct and 200 indirect jobs.

The project has been visited by more than 3000 architecture and engineering students from the whole country.

The building saves 30% to 40% more energy than conventional buildings.

Chronology:

1995 – Creation of the Iberê Camargo Foundation

1996 – SIte for building the new Foundation headquarters donated by the Rio Grande do Sul government

1998/June – Selection of the architect

2000/May – First site visit by the architect, Álvaro Siza

2001/November – Approval of viability study by Porto Alegre City Council

2002/June – Laying the Foundation Stone

2002/September – Design wins the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Architecture Biennial

2003/July- Building commences

- Sponsorship signed with Camargo Corrêa

2003/December – Sponsorship signed with Petrobras

2004/February – Sponsorship signed with Vonpar

2004/March – Sponsorship signed with RGE

2004/December – Conclusion of Phase 1 – Underground Area

2005/Outubro – Conclusion of Phase 2 – Concrete Structure

2 half of 2007 – Conclusion of Phase 3  and inauguration - Finishing, thermal insulation, electrical, plumbing and complementary installations, decoration and furnishing

1 half of 2008 – Finishing and furnishing

Construction phases:

Phase 1 (basement): Infrastructure: car park, auditorium, print studio, rooms for courses and workshops, documentation and research center, utilities area and technical reserve.

Phase 2: nine exhibition rooms, atrium, reception, café, cloakroom, cultural shop

Phase 3 (final): Finishing, thermal insulation electrical, plumbing and complementary installations, decoration and furnishing

Inauguration:  End of may 2008

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2005 Sports Center Llobregat

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Alvaro


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piscinadecornellacfernand_530x353Alvaro Siza’s world-class sports centre in Barcelona is a model of urban planning.

The new Llobregat Sports Centre in the Barcelona suburb of Cornella is an example of what could be achieved. Designed by Alvaro Siza, the 40,000sq m sports centre is part of a larger sports park development which will include a new stadium for Barcelona’s “other” football club, Espanyol. The site was a flat rectangle of empty land between the dense streets of the post-war suburb to the north and Barcelona’s ring road to the south. Access roads separate it from a school to the west and playing fields to the east.

The building is set back from the built-up urban edge and made up of a distinct group of large interlocking volumes of white concrete which express the primary programmes within: a rectangular box for the 2,500-seat sports hall, an oval drum for the swimming pool and a long bar for the ancillary facilities. From a distance the ridge of hills that keeps Barcelona’s sprawling suburbs pressed against the sea and gives the city much of its topographical character emerge above the buildings. The scarred concrete profile of the sports hall fits effortlessly into the tableau with the line of tree-covered outcrops on the horizon.

Two ramps, each the size of a town square, rise up from the car park and meet at an entrance 4m above the ground. The stilted curves and monolithic materiality of the sports hall disassociate it from other big out-of-town sheds and evoke memories of landforms, while the ramps imply that you have to climb some pre-existing terrain before you can enter the building. These gestures begin to detach you from the reality of the building’s lacklustre surroundings, a process that continues inside to become the main ordering force of the building.

The detailing is sparse, almost nonexistent. The walls are in-situ concrete cast with not quite square panels of smooth formwork. Siza specified that the finished concrete should not be made good in any way so there are already streaks of staining and a patchwork effect where the concrete has cured differently behind each board.

Moving inside, you enter an amazing space 100m long, L-shaped in section. The scale is intimate and you are suddenly aware of subtle differences between being here or there in the larger volume. The interior is precisely formed around human movement and perception.

The circulation area is stark but beautifully lit by precisely positioned openings. Once away from the entrance there are no views back out except at the far end where you are offered a glimpse of the outdoor pool below. Two skylights cut into the ceiling and fill the southern end with a soft glow, drawing you down towards the swimming pool entrance and introducing an other-worldly element to the architectural promenade. Later, when you head back to the entrance to leave, a high-level window frames a view of the rooftops of Cornella as if to wake you gently and remind you to where you are about to return.

Deep thresholds separate the sports hall and swimming pool from the circulation space. At the swimming pool entrance, instead of just a row of doors, a kind of anti-space has been made with two curving walls, not as a distinct room but as a distortion of the circulation space, as if the space itself has been morphed around. An event such as this looks naive on a plan but the reality of the experience only induces awe at Siza’s masterful judgment of precisely where to introduce light, how much to curve a wall, when to step a ceiling.

The poor swimmers and athletes miss most of this and descend a staircase behind the reception desk to the changing rooms below via a more conventional long corridor. Above the circulation area the exercise rooms are arranged in a line and all are naturally lit by conventional windows, skylights or borrowed light from the circulation space. Their ceilings are sculpted with plasterboard to hide artificial light sources.

Siza’s ubiquitous tool, the dado, appears inside the building, although in a less playful mood than usual, and in grey paint rather than stone. It has a constant level in each space and is the same colour as the floor, as if the room has been filled with paint to a given level and then drained. The level varies slightly between spaces to fine-tune the visual perception of each space.

The sports hall roof is a space-frame, the only expressed structure anywhere in the building. The swimming pool by contrast has a shallow elliptical concrete dome roof with 62 circular rooflights. When the sun shines, spots of sunlight reflect off the water and walls like a glitterball in a 1950s dance hall. A ramp descends around one side of the ellipse for spectators to watch events in the pool.

On the ramp, your eye level is roughly at mid-height in the space so the spots of light on the water mirror the rooflights above, like in Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion where the ceiling height is set so that the eye is at mid-height, setting up a horizontal symmetry that works with the reflective materials to dissolve spatial boundaries. The same idea recurs in several places, in the sports hall where you enter at the top of the seating rake and in the circulation corridor where the ceiling height drops near the pool entrance.

The indoor and outdoor pools are linked in an irregular-shaped plan, like a rubber duck, a similarity I wouldn’t be surprised to learn was intentional. Where they join, glass doors can be dropped down from inside the wall like a portcullis to separate them. The curving edge flows through like a meandering river.

Outside, you discover a hidden oasis of curving forms. The pool’s edges swerve and turn while the water reflects the arching sports hall roof and the clouds overhead.

An arc of wall and roof close the pool area off to the south and provide a crescent of shade from the summer sun. The scale of the arc increases as it sweeps up and round to meet the drum of the indoor pool.

At one end of the canopy, where the cantilevered roof is at its widest, a support has been inserted. Instead of a simple column, a slender cylindrical shaft emerges from a more massive abstract volume just like Le Corbusier’s column in the east porch at Ronchamp, a typical Siza mannerist reinterpretation from the modern architectural library. To point out such an obvious quote is to fall into his trap, deliberately daring you to doubt his ability and simultaneously exhibiting his effortless handling of form, meaning and memory.

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1994 Aveiro Library

Posted on 25 October 2010 by Alvaro


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2317385468_c11a41150dCampus Universitário de Santiago
3810-193 Aveiro
Portugal

The library plays a central role in the organisation of the university campus situated on the edge of the city of Aveiro. A free-standing curving wall characterises the western façade and expresses the reinforced concrete structure of the building.

This baffle admits reflected light while a continuous horizontal cut at the third level assures (for those seated) a visual connection across the sait marshes extending to the horizon.

All electrical and air-conditioning services are integrated into the perimeter shelving system at each floor allowing the ceilings to be left uncluttered and spatially continuous with the vertical voids which traverse the interior spaces. This configuration also permits the spatial continuity of the double curvature of the ceiling at the top floor.

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1966 Leça Swimming Pools

Posted on 24 October 2010 by Alvaro

Leça Swimming Pools
Avenida da Liberdade
Leça da Palmeira
Portugal

Alvaro Siza 1966

piscina7 The project is situated along the coastal avenue, the mass of the building set below the road level to allow an uninterrupted view to the sea. The program includes two swimming pools, changing facilities and a cafe.

Because of the need to limit construction costs and to preserve the landscape, the project had to make a minimal intrusion into the existing terrain. Since a topographical survey was not available at the time, the architect spent days marking the location of the existing rock formations, to arrive at a design which would require the least blasting.

The large adults’ pool is bound by low concrete walls that extend into the sea and are complemented on three sides by the natural rock formations. The continuity of these walls with the existing topography and the level of the water in the pool which appears to be contiguous with the sea, create the illusion of a seamless transition between the man-made and natural. The children’s pool, further inland, is enclosed by a curvilinear wall on one side and sheltered from the rest of the site by massive rocks and a concrete bridge at its entrance. In a playful gesture, this bridge is set just low enough to discourage adults from passing under it.


The access to the swimming pools is by way of a pedestrian ramp, which leads down from the coastal highway. The visitor descends gradually, simultaneously losing sight of the horizon, into a maze of concrete walls, platforms and canopies of the shower stalls and changing facilities building. After passing through its long corridors, partially screened by the cabinet partitions, a path along a high wall leads back into the Atlantic light, but the water still remains hidden from view. A subtle play on the senses, this element seems to slice the landscape in two, leaving only sky visible above and the sea audible beyond. The composition of these elements as building proper is understood only from the perspective of the swimming pools, since from the road they appear as an abstract figure, a series of carvings into the landscape.

Many of the materials of the swimming complex had already been used by Siza at Boa Nova and in other early projects, but here they achieve an unusual level of homogeneity: the rough concrete, of a slightly cooler hue than the rock formations, smooth and washable concrete panels for the pavement, Riga wood carpentry, and green copper roofs, which seen from the coastal avenue attain a color similar to the pools.

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1977 Quinta da Malagueira

Posted on 23 October 2010 by Alvaro



evora2032Between 1973 and 1977 , Álvaro Siza designed three housing projects that together form a defining period in the architect’s early work. Two of these, Bouça and São Victor were low cost projects designed for the SAAL organization in Porto, the worker’s council that formed to address the severe housing conditions that existed in Portugal after the 1974 revolution.

Both projects were built on difficult inner city sites in the center of Porto to provide adequate housing and prevent the displacement of low-income citizens.

Malagueira, the third project, was designed as a suburban community on the outskirts of Évora, an old Roman town of about 40,000 that was the capital of the Alentejo region, located about 100 miles east of Lisbon. Bouça and São Victor are examples of limited infill building, (40 and 12 units respectively). Malagueira, by comparison, is a large,low-rise, high density complex of about 1200 dwellings built over a period of about 20 years on a 27 hectare site between two existing barrio communities.

All three projects demonstrate a design process for building in dense urban conditions that Siza characterizes as “forming a whole with ruins”. All three are made of similar dwelling types in which an architectural vocabulary of similar, sparse cubic forms is used to develop the geometry and repetitive order typical to most housing designs while at the same time achieving a high degree of architectural variety.

Prior to 1973, Siza was known for a series of small private commissions, including several houses, the Boca Nova restaurant, the Pinto & Sotto Maior bank at Oliveira de Azemis, and a swimming pool at Leça da Palimeira, a small community along the coast north of Porto. These buildings display a developed modernist style and clearly show Siza’s skill interpreting site conditions, his use of primary geometric forms, and the attention given to the selection of basic materials and careful detailing.

Siza’s housing, especially work done for the workers’ Councils that formed after 25 April 1974, was designed under very difficult political and economic conditions in a very contentious participatory process that made it almost impossible for the architect to function as a designer. Certainly the astringent, minimalist results of Bouça and São Victor are a product of this condition but they are also a testament to Siza’s skills using a few basic design strategies and elements to create a powerful collective result. The extreme angst surrounding the construction of Bouça and São Victor that seems to be part of the history of these two housing projects, lasted for many years as these buildings deteriorated over time, culminating with the demolition of São Victor and, happily, the final completion of the original design for Bouça in 2007. It was the experience of these two projects that form precedents and set the stage for Malagueira.

Siza was given the commission for Malagueira because of his experience with Bouça and São Victor. Housing conditions in Portugal were desperate at this time and the Évora City Council wanted to build new housing in the rolling landscape west of the old city along the road to Lisbon. The Évora program was quite different from the Porto work and the idea was to build a completely new satellite community that would eventually be owned by the residents in a cooperative organization. Siza objected to the title “social housing” pointing out that all housing is social but within the framework of a pressing national need for new housing, Malagueira was not thought of as a typical installation of subsidized social housing. Land was expropriated for a new community planned for about 1200 dwellings.

Two existing barrio communities, Santa Maria and Nossa Senhora da Gloria, had grown up along one of the radial roads leading out of the city, creating am east-west axis. A meandering stream running in a general north-south direction on this side of the city, passed between the two villages and this space was the site for the new community. Other traces of the former occupation of this area included the remains of an Arab bath, a water tank, some cork oaks, a school, 2 old windmills, and the old residence of Malagueirinha with an adjacent orange grove. A system of paths had developed over time as people walked to different destinations in this landscape between villages to shop, get water, or make the 35-minute walk to the center of Évora on the hilltop.

The gridiron organization of Santa Maria was the model for the layout of the new quarter forming a new street pattern of smaller fragments of a tartan grid of parallel rows of streets and alleys and back-to-back patio houses. The largest of these groups extends along the north edge of Santa Maria forming a long narrow zone opening to open public spaces along the stream. Other smaller fragments of the grid were attached to the ends of the original barrio, essentially enlarging the perimeter of the village. Still other groups were sited at different angles forming several separate neighborhoods responding to alignments suggested in the landscape. The meandering interstitial spaces between neighborhoods are part of the public open spaces that followed preexisting paths and other features in the landscape. These areas between built-up regular clusters of houses are used for community uses, shopping, parking, recreation, and pedestrian circulation.

A system of raised concrete aqueducts connects the separate residential clusters together and provides the infrastructure for water and electric distribution. Aqueducts were a feature of the Roman and later of the Renaissance era and remains of these are still visible in Évora. This established a precedent for a system of aqueducts to be used to distribute water in the new community. Raised channels made of exposed concrete block that are supported on columns forming a more-or-less continuous loggia structure that connects neighborhoods while servicing each house within the neighborhood clusters. The aqueduct system was justified on the basis of cost, but it also functions as a large-scale planning device that connects neighborhoods and forms public arcades defining entrances to groups of shops and other public facilities. Because it is built to the height of the roof of the second floor and is left as unfinished concrete, it provides visual and formal relief to the relentless, repetitive white walls of the dwellings.

The scale of Malagueira is much larger than the earlier Porto sites, but the basic 2-story dwellings are similar. In Bouça, 2-story maisonettes are combined back-to-back in 4-story, gallery-access building. The rows of dwellings in Malagueira, although they are only 2-stories high, share a similar back-to-back section concept with each facing a street. At São Victor, on a much smaller site, 2-story dwellings were used in an articulated row of individual houses with some defined exterior spaces front and rear.

The dwellings at Malagueira are patio or atrium types with an “ell”-shaped group of rooms on two sides of a small interior patio. There are two similar types, both built on an 8m x 12m plot, one with the courtyard in front and the other with the courtyard at the rear. Both have living, dining and kitchen spaces at the courtyard level with an interior stair leading to bedrooms and terraces above. The two types can be combined in several different ways resulting in different patterns of solid and void. This manipulation of the paired combinations is a key to the rich concatenated rhythm that is achieved with a pallet of only two dwelling types. Wall heights vary from entry gate height, to the second floor height to a vent wall that is perpendicular to the street and extends to the height of the second floor roof. This range of wall heights coupled with the alternating position of the patios and terraces results in a rich three-dimensional composition. The construction follows the topography so the houses step along the street as well as stepping perpendicular to the street. This further adds to the compositional variety. Seen from a distance, the houses seem to be taller than just 2 floors as they step up the contours giving the impression of a much denser, taller, terraced organization. The very limited pallet of doors and window shapes also vary in height with the contours furthering the concatenated organization of walls. The houses are designed to be added on to over time by the occupants so that they can begin as a simple two room house built on one level that can be transformed into a much larger dwelling with several bedrooms, multiple baths, and roof terraces. The incomplete quality of the evolving houses within the walled volume helps break down the strict repetition typical of most low cost housing.

Many comparisons have been made between Siza’s housing and Dutch and German siedlungen of the 1920’s and to some of the work of Adolf Loos. The use of flat roofs, white plaster exterior walls, the sparse application of windows and doors and the absence of decoration are all similar shared features. São Victor could be seen as a version of Oud’s Weissenhof row houses that have been inserted into an almost impossible site. Malagueira might be seen as Weisenhoff units facing the street on each side and backed up to each other in repetitive rows. The parallel rows of apartments with the rounded commercial ends at Bouça have similarities with Kiefhoek although Bouça is a 4-story high, gallery type. Bouça may have similarities to Mart Stam’s slabs, but the layered qualities of the section the use of colored walls on the upper floors, the complex section, upper terraces and the careful fitting of the building to the site are qualities quite different from the zeilenbau typology as used by Stam, and others. Loos’s early houses and his project for 20 terraced houses share many of the cubic, sparse qualities and the solid/void organization of Malagueira, but this unbuilt project was a proposal for a 4-story, point-access terraced slab. Other suggestions have been made that Malagueira was derived from vernacular Portuguese sources and rationalism. Siza, however, felt that his architecture grew from the context and from the economic and technical conditions of the time.

Unlike the Porto work, Malagueira has aged well over the 30 years of its occupation. Bouça has been completed and restored and is the product of a different residential model. Because Malaguiera was sponsored and financed and maintained by the city of Évora, and because the residents were living here under a combination of private and cooperative ownership, and rentals, the buildings have been well maintained, and for the most part, appear pretty much as they did when they were built. Of the 1100 dwellings that had been built by 1977, 60% were cooperatives, 35% rental and 5% privately owned. Financing was arranged so that houses could be owned after 25 years. The co-ops also controlled resale prices to limit speculation and sub-letting was not allowed. These and other rules limiting modifications to the original building contributed to a sense of well-being and a high level of maintenance.

There are some examples of the kind of “vernacularization” that inevitably goes on in a big housing project like this, especially one that is mostly occupant-owned. The painted wainscots and colored trim painted around doors and windows on some houses (an apparent attempt to capture the ambience of vernacular Alentejo building), the application of aftermarket accessories like roll-down shutters, door grilles, air-conditioning units (the sure sign of owner affluence), random electrical wiring, added street lights, retrofitted windows and the arbors and trellises that get built on the roof terraces are all signs of owner occupation but this is limited and have not seriously harmed the overall quality and maintenance of Malagueira. The graffiti that might have been tempting with all these white walls, and which are quite typical of most low-income housing, seem to be entirely missing here.

A more obvious problem with Malalgueira is the development and use of the interstitial spaces. The contrast between the highly structured organization of streets and houses and the more pastoral landscape of the meandering path of the stream is a seductive concept but in its unfinished state tends to read merely as leftover space. Some of the elements that have been built in this landscape, the pond, the open theater, the dam on the street, and the loggia formed in front of the shops by the aqueduct are obvious moves to inhabit the interstitial zone but ones that do not seem quite powerful enough to connect landscape and building. The curse of the suburban housing project has always been that it is so often disconnected from the needs of daily shopping; Malalgueira residents still seem destined to carry grocery bags on long walks along the original paths connecting places in the Alentejo landscape.

Project Quinta da Malagueira
Architect Siza, Álvaro
City Évora
Country Portugal
Address Av. da Malagueira, c. 2 km w. of Évora
Building Type Clustered low-rise
Row house
Number of Dwellings 1200
Date Built 1977-1998
Dwelling Types 2-4 BR courtyard houses
No. Floors 2
Section Type rowhouse
Exterior Finish
Materials plaster, conc., wood windows
Construction Type conc. frame, masonry walls
Ancillary Services parking, commercial, communal open spaces

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1994 Galician Museum of Art

Posted on 21 October 2010 by Alvaro


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450px-siza_konpostelanGalician Museum of Art

Rúa Ramón del Valle Inclán, 15704

Santiago de Compostela
Combining grand gestures with moments of intimacy, Alvaro Siza’s new Media Science building at the university of Santiago de Compostela reinterprets Mediterranean archetypes in an abstract synthesis of space and light.

One of Alvaro Siza’s most notable projects of the mid 1990s, was the Galician Museum of Art in the heart of Santiago de Compostela (AR October 1994). It marked an evolution in scale and programme and demonstrated a growing sensitivity in Siza’s handling of space and light. This most recent building sees him return to Santiago de Compostela, but instead of being locked into the medieval core, it forms part of the city’s university campus, joining a series of buildings in a park-like landscape. Dating from 1501, Santiago de Compostela’s university is one of the oldest in Spain, and this new building, for the Faculty of Media Science, represents the latest modest phase in the institution’s centuries-old evolution.

The university’s masterplan for the campus was initially based on the notion of a single interconnected megastructure, similar to the Free University of Berlin. But incremental additions, such as new student residences, gradually diluted this concept. When Siza came to the project he respected the existing overall geometry, but designed a detached building that completes and extends the original plan. The main component of the new faculty is a long, linear bar placed on an east-west axis that follows the alignment of the neighbouring Philology Faculty to the west. The bar acts as the fat spine of the building, with various clusters of spaces locked on to it, forming semienclosed patios that connect with the landscape and bring light into the interior. Transforming and reinterpreting an ancient archetype, Siza’s use of patios is by now a familiar device (for instance, the rectorate at Alicante University, AR March 2000). But it also draws on other more recent sources, such as Aalto and Scandinavian Modernism. Siza is fascinated by the way Aalto’s informal courtyards rework a Mediterranean form, so reinvigorating and reinventing it. Set midway along the main bar, the library forms the building’s conceptual and physical centre, thrusting out at right angles like the truncated prow of a ship. Hovering on squat pilotis, its mass is partly eroded so that you can walk underneath it to reach the main entrance on the south side. Like all of Siza’s buildings, the treatment of the exterior is characterized by restraint and impassiveness. Rising from a rusticated base of finely jointed honey-coloured granite, walls are solid and rendered with white stucco, in the Mediterranean tradition. The impervious white skin is ruptured by a handful of horizontal openings some shaded by thin overhangs, giving the elevations a curious beetle-browed effect.

As some critics have observed, Siza’s architecture resembles an ever-growing body of research, in which discoveries are gradually unearthed and elements crystallized. This research takes place across several scales, from the city down to the level of small details. Certain themes recur, such as the idea of a building as a sequence of topographical incidents, linked by ramps and levels. At Santiago de Compostela, this forms a key organizational device. Along the south side, the ground falls away in a shallow slope, with trees at its base. A ceremonial flight of steps and long ramp rise up from the street to converge on the main entrance. In summer, the green slope and steps are colonized by students, as informal extensions of the building.

Inside, the metaphor of building-astopography is restated by a spinal gallery that connects the various volumes. Airy and dignified, the gallery is bathed in a cool north light. A long ramp winds past a row of lecture halls to classrooms and studios at upper level. Circulation becomes a social event, as students throng through the tall gallery space. The row of lecture halls is terminated by a larger auditorium that projects out of the north side, similar in scale and form to the library on the south face. At the east end of the spine, a U-shaped conglomeration of spaces houses film, TV and radio studios served by stores, workshops and classrooms.

The building is essentially nougat of different sized volumes, sensitively reconciled to explore the potential for both grand gesture and human intimacy. The library, for instance, is a heroic double-height space, toplit by angular openings punched into the gently curved roof. Yet the upper level forms an almost domestically-scaled mezzanine for quiet study, poised above the main floor below.

Sequences of compression and expansion, controlled views and varying intensities of light are all subtly modulated and orchestrated to generate a compelling promenade architecturale. Light is reflected off predominantly hard or lustrous surfaces, giving the interior a cool luminosity. Materials such as white stucco, granite, and polished timber are chosen for their simplicity, climatic comfort and general robustness (crucial in a building that will endure heavy daily use). With its stone floor and plain walls, the spinal gallery is like an extension of the exterior, a blurred inside-outside realm. Careful attention is also paid to smaller scale elements, such as furnishings, railings, handles, and plinths, which have a spare, effortless elegance.

In their exploration of light, texture, movement and space, Siza’s buildings touch the senses in many ways. Diverse sources of inspiration are brought together in an abstract, imaginative unity with its own hierarchy and language. Yet Siza’s approach is not simply based on set of recurrent forms or characteristics, but a way of seeing, thinking and feeling about many things: building, climate, history, institutional ideals and patterns of use. Santiago de Compostela continues a fascinating evolution.

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