Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Alvaro Siza and Global Arquitectura Paisagista - Serralves Foundation, Porto, Portugal


'When I was a little boy, I fell ill," says Alvaro Siza, lighting up his sixth Camel cigarette. "My parents took me to a house high on a hill so I could breathe good air. I was allowed out on to a veranda. Here, I could look at a perfect view of a beautiful valley spread out below me. By the third week, I hated that view. I never wanted to see it again."

From the moment he began building, in the early 1950s, Portugal's most celebrated architect sought to frame views, to reveal landscapes, cityscapes, interiors and the ways through them. His aim was to delight the eye, and to make each creation a place of subtle revelation. Siza, now 75, has never been an architect of big statements and bigger pictures. He is, however, a designer and craftsman of some of the most considered of all modern buildings.

Siza is, quite simply, one of the world's finest architects - which is why he is coming to Britain next month to receive the 2009 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture, an award as highly regarded today as it was back in 1848, when the first was hung around the neck of Charles Cockerell, architect of Oxford's Ashmolean Library. The award, for a lifetime's achievement, is a gift from the Queen made on her behalf by Riba, the Royal Institute of British Architects. In all these years, Siza is the first Portuguese architect to be so honoured, though, apart from a 2005 collaboration with Eduardo Souto de Moura and Cecil Balmond on a summer pavilion for London's Serpentine Gallery, he has never built in Britain." By Jonathan Glancey

Finish reading in The guardian - Hail Siza