Álvaro Siza: "Emotion is very important" in architecture

It’s difficult balance, what you receive and use may be difficult but it’s a healthy balance. Álvaro Siza: That’s right, one amazing project that is a Bauhaus museum in Hangzhou. Álvaro Siza: Even before I have complete knowledge, or good knowledge of every single problem, I begin sketching possible solutions with the little   information I have. At the gallery,   the 81-year-old discussed the building, his architectural technique, and how the economic crisis has forced him to look overseas for work. Photograph by Joao MorgadoAmy Frearson: How do you see Porto today, and how it has changed since you started your career? And the part with the collection, of course. The upper floor will be for exhibitions, on the ground floor there will be a small shop, and there will offices for the investigators, restoration artists and so on. I feel I need to begin immediately with an idea – although then it can be completely changed.”
Serralves Museum, PortoBut he also insists that emotion is one of the most important tools in architecture. Álvaro Siza: Well there   is   a contemporary polemic about identity. So they invited us to make a museum, not only to have exhibitions of the collection, but also to have workshops for the students as part of the university of design. Building a project – it is never finished, that’s it, because we never have enough time. So there will be workshops, meeting rooms, auditoriums, and those things. How do you start your design process? While I’m in this process, I have collaborators taking photos and making a model of the area, some study the problem more carefully and look for information that is good for the problems. The architect that worked on the Serralves Villa – one of the best architects in Porto called Marques da Silva – made some optimisation of the building, very discreet as usual, putting stone around the windows, making small towers, and he said to me: ‘So how have you decided to use the archives?’
But   it is not enough space. For instance 20   years ago I did not have to fight with the crisis so if it was today the building would probably not have been built, simply because there would not be the finances to do it. Unlike many high-profile architects, Siza has famously always kept his team   small to ensure he has creative control over every project in his office. The architect   revealed that   he rarely thinks of his   projects as finished   – his recently completed office building   in China was still under construction two weeks after the opening ceremony. In this interview he tells us his projects are never finished “because we never have enough time”. Can you tell me about that? The Building on the Water, China. Boa Nova Tea House, Porto. He had not yet won the Pritzker when we were invited, then I was reading the paper in Porto one day and I saw that news and thought “is this happening? The other work, in Huai’An, that is finished now. “You have to feel what you are doing, and not be so rational that you just solve the problems, because emotion is very important. In the new area there will a cinema for 50 people, then the archive on the ground floor –   that simple. I have to add a new building. Then I go on and someone goes to the computer and begins with the vigorous designs, and I receive all this information and I begin putting out crazy ideas that are not good, but often I feel necessary. Amy Frearson:   I heard you are   collaborating with Chinese architect Wang Shu on the design. Is that true? The museum was an invitation coming from the university of Hangzhou. So before we were often working with Wang Shu but now he’s much busier! But it requires identity and in that way the difference of identity of a culture is also part of our obligation. Although if I was in charge to do this again today, I’m sure I would make a different thing. There is design time and construction time. One of the questions we have often is “how much time we have for design?” and “how much time we have for construction?” We had the opening ceremony in China and two weeks later we are still working on that building because there are still things to be done. The jury citation for his 1992 Pritzker Prize states that “Like the early Modernists, his shapes, molded by light, have a deceptive simplicity about them; they are honest.”
Serralves Museum, PortoBorn in 1933, Siza – whose full name is Álvaro Joaquim de Melo Siza Vieira – has also won   the RIBA Gold Medal, the AIA Gold Medal and the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement, among other prizes. Álvaro Siza: The building is working, there are many different things like exhibitions. Álvaro Siza: I don’t know. Without   it, something is missing. Globalisation in the end is not a new thing. Interview: Álvaro Siza, one of the world’s most decorated architects, spoke to Dezeen recently in his home city   of Porto, Portugal. I’m another person with experience. Álvaro Siza: This is a 19th-century garage that was transformed in the 20s or 30s. Siza is a cult figure on the architecture circuit whose work has been described as “poetic modernism”. There are small buildings, very small storage buildings that we demolished here, including one for chickens. “Building a project – it is never finished, that’s it, because we never have enough time.”
Serralves Museum, PortoDezeen was invited to Portugal   as part of the 15th anniversary celebrations of the Serralves Museum, one of many projects that Siza has completed in Porto, the city where his studio has been based since 1954. The influence of India, first, and China; today we don’t feel that identity. There is a free space on the campus, and they bought in Berlin a fantastic Bauhaus collection with everything – furniture, drawings, glass, ceramics and so on. Not because I don’t like this one but because I am different. When Portugal went to India, to China   –   I’m speaking of the 16th Century – it was an enormous shock, and they created a new skyline, which is now one of the exemplars of Portuguese identity. Leça Swimming Pools, Porto. Because through the centuries, the influence, some times very strong, modern, happened. Until now it has been possible to use it in a perfect way, it’s flexible enough.

Updated: 20.12.2014 — 01:06