It must be somewhere here. Google Maps is safe. But there is only one wall of ocher yellow stone strongly drawn, strongly altered, without window even more. In addition, the parking lot and the concrete bars all around do not necessarily seem to be the good neighbors of the first job of a Pritzker Prize winner. After all, it is the most important distinction that architecture can offer. Eduardo Souto de Moura received it in 2011. The Casa das Artes, cultural center increasingly desperate in the nascent drizzle of Porto, designed the architect in the early 80's in his hometown.
"I do not like when a building shouts" I am a monument! "" Dira Souto de Moura in his office in Porto shortly after. In this case, say "the voice of the 67 year old architect does not describe properly. He shouted loudly at the word "monument". He has long since adopted his journalist's notebook. He describes with wild circles what he despises: an architecture that cries on the market and does not integrate sensitively into their environment. "I prefer buildings in a low voice," he murmurs in a good mood. Sitting, Souto de Moura looks like a friendly giant with his bushy eyebrows and wide cross, but when he gets up, he is surprisingly small.
In fact, it is often necessary to look for buildings of Souto de Moura. One of his first homes in Vieira do Minho hides behind a dilapidated, green-mossy stone wall. The small chapel, which he designed for the 2016 Architecture Biennial on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, also invades and covers the stone. "In fact, I've always designed the same house," says Souto de Moura.
Of course, this is not the case, as shown by his biggest retrospective so far, that we can see for almost a year at Casa da Arquitectura de Matosinhos, the neighboring city of Porto. The range of projects ranges from the Braga sculptural football stadium to the master plan of Porto's functional metro, through an ink-temple-like museum, Casa das Histórias Paula Rego in Cascais, and the technoid design of the Foz Tua dam. There can be no question of the same house, but perhaps of a certain attitude with which the architect approaches each project.
Portugal dedicates a retrospective to Souto de Moura: models, countless drawings, texts, large format photos – many unpublished
The exhibition is based on a donation. Souto de Moura donated a large part of its archives to the architecture center in the spring, including more than 600 models, 8500 drawings and numerous texts and photos on the projects. Nuno Graça Moura, architect and longtime collaborator of Souto de Moura, has organized with Francesco Dal Co a glittering retrospective of the mostly unpublished material, in which each project is presented with large format photographs, a model and especially the powerful sketches from Souto de Moura.
"The work of Eduardo is the most interesting that can be studied in architecture," says Dal Co. Strong Thesis, but the Venetian's word has weight. He is one of the most renowned architectural historians. Dal Co taught at Yale, is professor of history of architecture in Venice, where he directed the biennale of architecture for several years, published monographs of many stars of the world. Modern architecture and is the editor of the magazine since 1996. Casabella, one of the most prestigious architectural and design magazines of all time.
"The beauty of all the buildings of Souto de Moura is that they do not fear the passing of time," says Dal Co. Moss can therefore grow on the facade, rain and wind can damage the walls (c & rsquo; This is why the ocher yellow stone wall) also not recognized as the back of the Casa das Artes). The classic signs of aging are not all as good as those of Souto de Moura. A design must be designed to age. Otherwise, only the demolition ball remains.
The fact that the Portuguese know how to manage it is demonstrated by a project in Braga. Its covered market had survived and quickly made Souto de Moura a decorative ruin for the new cultural center, which it replaced by the covered market. There may be few architects who enjoy with such joy the remains of their home.
Anyone who considers Souto de Moura's work as minimalist should take a look at his sketches. For example at Casa das Artes in Porto. On the sketch, various representatives of high culture romp, a Cupid sits in front of the stairs, a statue of Venus and the torso of another ancient figure. If you find yourself in front of the entrance, you can not find anything of cultural and historical ornaments. But you can discover how to create such a sophisticated scene from a simple stone wall that even the toddler choir, which repeats this afternoon, receives a glamorous aura.
His work is like a good grappa: you taste all that has been lost
"The work of Souto de Moura is about reduction," explains Dal Co. The result is a distillate, comparable to "a good grappa: when you drink it, you taste everything that has been lost in the manufacturing process". It is quite possible that this suppression of what inspired the design, but also, due to the original career aspirations of Souto de Moura. At the Escola Superior de Belas Artes of the University of Porto, he first studied sculpture before moving on to architecture.
Or by his great model Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The reduction in the essentials was his creed. In fact, the Casa das Artes somewhat recalls the pavilion of Mies van der Rohe in Barcelona, a work of art made of simple but ingeniously fixed walls. "I love Mies, so I copy it," says Souto de Moura, not without pride, "I am a copyist." Doing the same thing as someone is ridiculous, but "copying the mind of something is smart". Finally, do not copy the image, but the thoughts.
In this sense, Souto de Moura copies a lot. In his architectural office, a yellowed poster of Irish writer Samuel Beckett and American artist Minimal Art, Donald Judd, is suspended. "The books are Eduardo's best friends," said conservative Dal Co. In fact, "I've always designed the same house" of Souto de Moura was inspired by Thomas Bernhard, who claims to have always write the same book. Souto de Moura admires Bernhard since he's been working in Salzburg. On the other hand, he likes Miles Davis' jazz, because the musician has constantly changed and "has never been satisfied".
Souto de Moura: "The solution lies in the drawing of the problems."
Is Souto de Moura still satisfied? "Of course not, if I was satisfied, I would be stupid." He has dark circles deep, because he realized two projects in the small cabinet exhibition the night before the opening. Besides the retrospective with the corresponding pathos – brilliant photos, perfectly lit, in front of a white wall – the architect recreated a kind of mini-version of his office. He wants to work there himself in the coming months, meet clients or answer visitors' questions. A star architect to touch so to speak. Lapidars are pictures and plans of ongoing projects pinned to the wall. His heroes are flanked by them, Miles Davis, Donald Judd, the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa.
And of course, Álvaro Siza. It is he who has set the international spotlight on contemporary Portuguese architecture. A country that has been perceived over the centuries as the periphery of Europe. In Lisbon, a culture different from that of Porto could emerge: in the capital, the royal house, the nobility, the Fado, in the port city of Porto, an autonomous bourgeoisie that made it possible, even in the fascist dictatorship. To date, the Faculty of Architecture of Porto is considered the best in the country. The most important Portuguese architects came from there: Fernando Távora, Álvaro Siza, Souto de Moura.
"Siza is my master, he is my father in architecture," said the latter. Even as a student, he worked for the architect, who was almost 20 years older. If there was a problem with a project, the youngest had to draw: "In drawing problems is already the key to the solution," says Souto de Moura. But when he won his first competition, Siza threw him. "If you want to be an architect, you can not work with me anymore," he said, giving his legs to the young colleague. With success, by which: Who visits today Souto de Moura in his office, also sees on the panel of the bell the name of the colleague. Siza works one floor above Souto de Moura. The elder designed the house over the Douro River. And the youngest would not be Eduardo Souto de Moura, if he had not improved the details. A door handle, the lamp. Always in the work of Siza hides a work of Souto de Moura.