Philip Jodidio
TASCHEN, Cologne, 2013, English, French, and German
Nonfiction, Architecture
12.1 x 15.4 inches, hardcover, 500 pages
ISBN: 9783836521710
Suggested Retail Price: $150.00

From the Publisher. The definitive work on the seminal Portuguese architect, realized in close collaboration with the architect and includes a full catalogue of his work to date.. When Álvaro Siza won the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 1992, the Jury described his forms as “molded by light, [with] a deceptive simplicity about them; they are honest. They solve design problems directly…. That simplicity, upon closer examination however, is revealed as great complexity. There is a subtle mastery underlying what appears to be natural creations.”

Born in Matosinhos, Portugal, in 1933, Siza created his own practice in Porto in 1954, and he has been a Professor of Construction at the University of Porto since 1976. The architect received the European Community’s Mies van der Rohe Prize in 1988 and the Praemium Imperiale in Japan in 1997, the 2009 RIBA Gold Medal, and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. He has built a large number of projects in Portugal, and worked on the restructuring of the Chiado area of Lisbon following a devastating fire in 1988. Siza designed both the Portuguese Pavilion for the 1998 Lisbon World’s Fair and the 2005 Serpentine Pavilion in London in collaboration with Eduardo Souto de Moura. He completed the Serralves Foundation in Porto, 1998, and the Museum for the Iberê Camargo Foundation in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2008.

On 1 book list
Norman Weinstein

The monumental heft and dimensions (12-by-15-inch format) of this six-decade retrospective of the great Portuguese modernist architect Álvaro Siza offers a surprisingly charming window into Siza’s talent. A wealth of drawings, a major component of this designer’s creative process, appears in playful profusion in all their outrageous glory.

Siza’s drawings maintain a singularity transcending their pragmatic utility in bringing his concepts into sharp architectural forms. Human figures—or perhaps fanciful mythic spirits, his architectural muses?—peek out of his architectural sketches. Often proportionally larger than his drawn buildings, they seem to comprise a “Greek chorus” capable of commenting on Siza’s first creative impulses.

While the uniformly high-quality color photographs of Siza’s buildings are welcome and expected in this volume summarizing a remarkably fertile career, the architect’s sketches offer a complex counterpoint. Siza’s buildings embody stark white rectilinear forms seemingly springing out of the rocky ground of his native soil, but in his sketches Siza discloses a different sensibility than that of his obvious precursors, Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Not involved with Le Corbusier’s utopian reveries or Kahn’s classically inflected, archetypal, spiritually driven architecture, Siza operates by mingling inspiration from the sensual textures of Nature with the conceptual rigors of geometry. Arguably his masterwork, the Ibere Camargo Foundation Museum combines an undulating facade, perhaps evoking the Atlantic constantly reshaping Portugal’s coast, with an interior full of dramatic light and shadow play, the spectacle of high-tech and natural lighting strategies creating brilliant corners inviting museumgoers’ contemplation of art.

Siza tends to speak of his designs by offering concise Zen-like quips that puzzle as much as clarify. Philip Jodidio does well in offering very brief descriptive paragraphs linked to large-scale photographs, apparently in consultation with Siza. Packaged in a cardboard suitcase, this is a massive tome inviting the mind to travel through an architectural opus that defines simple description, yet affirms the constant appeal of clean minimalist design that draws meaning from the jagged ground it rests upon.

comments powered by Disqus