THE CASA DAS HISTORIAS PAULA REGO
DESIGNED BY EDUARDO SOUTO DE MOURA
THE CASA DAS HISTORIAS PAULA REGO DESIGNED BY EDUARDO SOUTO DE MOURA
The Casa das Historias Paula Rego was designed by the architect Eduardo Souto de Moura. The building makes use of certain aspects of the region's historical architecture, which is here reinterpreted in a contemporary way. It can be immediately recognised thanks to its two pyramid-shaped towers and the red-coloured concrete used in its construction.
The land and trees which previously existed at the site are incorporated as fundamental elements, while four wings, of varying heights and sizes, make up the building. The building itself is subdivided into rooms which lead into one another and are laid out around the higher central room which houses the temporary exhibition. The building's interior has 750m2 of exhibition space, on top of the technical and service areas, and is decorated in neutral shades and paved with the blue-grey marble of Cascais. The building also houses a shop, a café which opens onto a verdant garden and an auditorium with 200 seats.
The building's design is fully in keeping with the artist's wishes, and it was Paula Rego herself who was responsible for the choice of architect. It meets all the requirements for a museum and its various functions, without forgetting the need to give visitors a warm welcome.
“With the Casa das Historias, it can be said that Eduardo Souto de Moura has adopted and almost ‘regionalist' approach, distancing himself from the modem abstractionism that has been a dominant feature of his work. It is, however, an uncritical regionalism, that avoids the sense of ‘resistante' which lay behind other attempts at the approach in Portugal in the 1980s. In this museum created for Cascais, Souto de Moura associates certain formal devices with a legacy of architectural composition, adopting specific formulas for the building's insertion in the surrounding area as well as a use of scale which can be easily contextualised in a very specific type of geography. Its close proximity to the work of Raul Lino is therefore set in a “Southern” landscape, without resorting to any unnecessary decorative or picturesque frills.”
“With this museum, Souto de Moura develops a form of “modern-day architecture” without, in fact, repeating any of the “old models" - in keeping with the ideas defended by Aldo Rossi in his scientific autobiography - evoking timeless archetypes from urban iconography: towers, lighthouses, silos and chimneys, like the ones that define the profile of the Palacio de Sintra. It is therefore not surprising, if one continues the “analogy", that, when describing this museum, Souto de Moura also mentioned the pronounced roofs of Raul Lino's palaces, or the idea of an “inhabited chimney", evoking that of the kitchen in the monastery of Alcobaca_ In fact, in its best interpretation, the Casa das Historias can be seen as a “historicist" project, a condition that will certainly surprise Souto de Moura's most faithful followers and confound his harshest critics."
Some photographs had taken by © Vítor Gabriel which you may find more to click Archdaily web page link.
Some of others had taken by © Francisco Nogueira which you may find more to click below his web page link.
EDUARDO SOUTO DE MOURA LAUREATE ESSAY
Modern Project and Ancient Architecture
By Carlos Machado Professor of Contemporary Architecture, Oporto University
“The Modern Movement is a project and not a language. As yet, nothing has appeared to replace it. It is only the means that have changed. I think that Aldo Rossi was one of those who recovered components that had apparently been forgotten: History, which was implied, but never evoked.” Eduardo Souto de Moura
In considering the Modern Movement as a project, Eduardo Souto de Moura sets out to evaluate the coherence and applicability of its principles, seeking to identify those elements that are enduring. He then compares these principles with the history of architecture. In no way is he attempting a nostalgic return to the early 20th century, nor is he defending any supposedly heroic avant-garde theory based on the idea of permanent ruptures with the past. Rather, he is looking for correlation between building forms and techniques (their appropriateness or their necessity) and between responding to a program brief and demonstrating functional versatility. In each case, Souto de Moura is seeking to understand how formal structures endure over time, discovering their role in the transformation of territory and the reasons for their continued persistence throughout the history of cities.
Eduardo Souto de Moura and six other architects from Porto refused to participate in the exhibition After Modernism (Lisbon, 1983). Nevertheless, they wrote a joint text for the catalogue. Following a brief description of the characteristics of 20th-century Portuguese architecture, they reached the conclusion that there was nothing to be gained by discussing the future of Portuguese architecture from the perspective of contrasting the modern and post-modern, as the promoters of this later movement proposed. And yet, if there was a fundamental problem underlying all projects that Souto de Moura had undertaken until then, it was precisely the relationship of modern architecture with the past, or the “presence of the past”—the theme of the 1980 Venice Biennale that probably lay at the foundation for the After Modernism exhibition undertaken in Portugal.
“I have always understood the Modern Movement as a continuation of Classicism.” Souto de Moura said in 1994. “Basically, it is a discourse of continuity with different techniques and intentions, but with common underpinnings: proportions, the relationship between structure and form, a refined language.”
New means include industrialized construction systems, concrete and iron, the skeleton structure, etc., as well as abstraction, which is considered necessary for a non-figurative formalization of architecture, as a way of overcoming historic eclecticism. Hence, the acceptance of the hypothesis of a (modern) Architecture for Museums—the title of a text by Aldo Rossi that returns to Cézanne’s announcement of the need for an art whose meaning is derived from the confrontation with its past that only the organized temporal succession of museums enables us to understand.
Souto de Moura is only interested in a modern architecture that, just like the painting that Cézanne set out to produce, is “something solid and lasting, like the art of museums”. Consequently, he immediately understood from the very beginning, when working with Álvaro Siza, that for architecture, cities are in fact like museums, since they are places where different periods are all present at the same time. They accompany one another, overlap with one another, establishing crossovers and giving rise to the city as we know it. Our fascination with cities lies in the infinite variety of its possible correspondences, in both near and distant allusions, in the limitless possibilities for imports and intertwinings. They confront us with the different and even with the exotic. But it is a fascination that also lies in those similarities that seem fatal and necessary, arising from the universal human condition that, in a surprising demonstration of empathy, absorbs everything that is apparently strange or alien. It returns us to ourselves as the heirs of a way of living and giving shape to the things of life that is born with us, recognized as such through different times and places.
For Souto de Moura, this city/museum must be upturned and examined in all of its stratifications— produced by permanent confrontation and overlapping layers—to reveal a past that is also a presence. These successive accumulations carry, if not the material presence of forms and spaces, at least evidence or memories that are also an important part of the city as we know it today.
It is a clinging to the past that necessarily involves abstraction as a way of thinking, both as a way of seeing and as a formal result. “We must treat nature by means of the cylinder, the sphere and the cone”, said Cézanne to his disciple Emile Bernard—an aim that Le Corbusier returned to some years later in the first issue of L’Esprit Nouveau (1920) “All is but spheres and cylinders. There are simple forms that provoke constant sensations.” The same simple or elementary forms are found in Aldo Rossi’s first architectural designs, simultaneously abstract and evocative of the architecture of the past.
“Abstraction” and “the city as a museum” are therefore the two complementary terms that enable us to understand Eduardo Souto de Moura’s first works, in which he outlines some of the premises that will later remain with him as firm convictions and will be successively revisited and questioned throughout his career.
For him, abstraction is understood, just as it is by Cézanne, as something that is deduced through observation of the real. That, in turn, leads to a simplification of forms, enabling us to see, for example, cylinders beneath columns, just as Le Corbusier did when visiting Roman houses at Pompeii. Figuration in architecture of the past is replaced by proportion and geometry. It is an attempt to get at the essence of historic forms reducing architecture to its most elementary components, to its volumetric and basic construction principles: “The spirit manifests itself in geometry, proportions are the language of architecture” Le Corbusier also said (leaving in abeyance—as if it has been momentarily ignored—the problem of decoration that will find a variety of solutions in Souto de Moura’s work.) Proportion can be seen as a language, and geometry as a means of organizing space, a tool for rationalizing formal and spatial relations, encapsulating, as Álvaro Siza states in Imaginar a Evidência (Imagining Evidence), the project’s essential core—“Architecture is geometry.”
Abstraction and industrialized construction form part of a bipolarity that is always found in Souto de Moura’s work. It results from a permanent (case by case, work by work) evaluation of what is gained and what is lost with modern means, through a refined language, a skeleton structure, etc. In some cases Souto de Moura experiments with a return to old systems, such as the stone bearing walls of traditional architecture. In other cases, albeit in the form of an allusion or citation, he returns to the architectural orders and their decorative elements of mouldings, cornices and capitals. These were used, for example, as part of the competition project for the Office of the Secretary of State for Culture in Porto (1981-88) where the capitals by the lake were proposed as a support for a stage at the center of the garden, that was never built. Decorative elements were assembled as fragments in a collage, in the house in Boavista (1987-94). Stones from the old demolished house, with its mouldings and cornices, were inlaid in the long wall leading to the entrance to the new house. We might also consider his design for the competition “A House for Karl Friedrich Schinkel” (1979), divided into two sectors, one abstract and the other figurative. The latter was designed as a false ruin, with the invented remains of former decorative elements. Hence the permanent allusion to an absent, irrecoverable figuration, to those architectural orders that for so long had provided us with distinctly characteristic buildings. Hence the presence in all his works of a sense of loss, of incompleteness—a permanent allusion to the classical world in which structure and form came together to create a complete system, in which decoration played its own role in defining the form and character of buildings.
For all these reasons, or as a logical sequence of these same ideas, we witness Souto de Moura’s great attention to the entire context—to all of its existing features, ranging from what has already been built to the natural environment. He considers everything, from the garden to agriculture, from the natural relief of the terrain to the clumps of trees, to the watercourses and the supporting walls—everything testifying to the way in which the territory has been modified or built by human hands. Attention is paid to the singularity of places and landscapes, to the different scales of reality, to everything that, when seen in the reality of its form, is already the project. “The Louvre is a good book to consult,” Cézanne also said, “but it must only be an intermediary. The real and immense study that must be taken up is the manifold picture of nature.”
Souto de Moura considers topography to be one of his design materials. It is a conjunction of lines of force, suspensions and concordances, balances and imbalances, treated as the sustenance or starting point for an architecture in which figuration is unnecessary—or no longer possible. Plans and volumes are in relation to the surroundings and give rise to form—see for example, the Braga Stadium (2000-03), that clearly has parallels from this point of view with Álvaro Siza’s swimming pool in Leça da Palmeira (1961-66). Both designs begin with the great lines of the landscape (with very close and complementary relationships between what is natural and what is built). Both of them are simultaneously abstract and topographical, or territorial in nature.
Souto de Moura’s architecture is also intended to grow out of the construction, tending to make form and structure coincide with one another. “Identity of construction and form,” Ludwig Hilberseimer wrote in Großstadt Architektur (although this could also have been said by Mies van der Rohe) “is the indispensable prerequisite of all architecture. At first sight, both appear to be opposites. But, it is precisely in their close conjunction, in their unity, that architecture exists.” So, it is an architecture in which one is always confronted with the need to forestall the rift between architects and engineers. Take, for instance, the great circular openings in the Braga Stadium that optimize the role of the concrete slabs supporting the northeast stands. This idea was suggested by the engineers during the design phase in order to arrive at the most efficient structural solution, and later incorporated into the final version. Objective criteria are therefore sought to reduce arbitrariness. By working with constraints, Souto de Moura’s avoids being left with arbitrariness, form for form’s sake and whimsy as the only possible responses. Hence, the great attention he pays to the program—to the “functions”, as modern architects liked to call them—to solar orientation, and all the factors that make it possible to design a project without thinking about form. Souto de Moura is always seeking to get to the practical problem, and this is what precisely happens in his best projects.
In this context, the ruin takes on a special meaning as an artifact stripped of its most superficial figuration. It is a reduction of architecture to its formal principles, enabling the buildings to reveal their secrets more readily. It is as if ruins testified to the temporal and spatial unity of architecture.
You may visit the Pritzker Prize web page to read all essay of Modern Project and Ancient Architecture by Carlos Machado Professor of Contemporary Architecture, Oporto University to click below link and download in pdf format.
EDUARDO SOUTO DE MOURO
Eduardo Souto de Moura was born in Porto, Portugal in 1952. His father was a doctor (ophthalmologist) and his mother a home maker. He has one brother and one sister. The sister is also a doctor and his brother is a lawyer with a political career—formerly he was Attorney General of Portugal.
Following his early years at the Italian School, Souto de Moura enrolled in the School of Fine Arts in Porto, where he began as an art student, studying sculpture, but eventually achieving his degree in architecture. He credits a meeting with Donald Judd in Zurich for the switch from art to architecture. While still a student, he worked for architect Noé Dinis and then Álvaro Siza, the latter for five years. While studying and working with his professor of urbanism, Architect Fernandes de Sá, he received his first commission, a market project in Braga which has since been demolished because of changing business patterns.
After 2 years of military service he won the competition for the Cultural Centre in Porto. The beginning of his career as an independent architect.
He is frequently invited as a guest professor to Lausanne and Zurich in Switzerland as well as Harvard in the United States. These guest lectures at universities and seminars over the years have afforded him the opportunity to meet many colleagues in the field, among them Jacques Herzog and Aldo Rossi.
He is married and he has 3 daughters: Maria Luisa, Maria da Paz e Maria Eduarda. His wife, Luisa Penha, and the eldest daughter are architects.
Along with his architecture practice, Souto de Moura is a professor at the University of Oporto, and is a visiting professor at Geneva, Paris-Belleville, Harvard, Dublin and the ETH Zurich and Lausanne.
Often described as a neo-Miesian, but one who constantly strives for originality, Souto de Moura has achieved much praise for his exquisite use of materials—granite, wood, marble, brick, steel, concrete—as well as his unexpected use of color. Souto de Moura is clear on his view of the use of materials, saying, “I avoid using endangered or protected species. I think we should use wood in moderation and replant our forests as we use the wood. We have to use wood because it is one of the finest materials available.”
In an interview with Croquis, he explained, “I find Mies increasingly fascinating ... There is a way of reading him which is just to regard him as a minimalist. But he always oscillated between classicism and neoplasticism ... You only have to remember the last construction of his life, the IBM building, with that powerful travertine base that he drilled through to produce a gigantic door. Then on the other hand, he arrived in Barcelona and did two pavilions, didn’t he? One was abstract and neo plastic and the other one was classical, symmetrical with closed corners ... He was experimenting. He was already so modern he was ‘post’.”
Souto de Moura acknowledges the Miesian influence, speaking of his Burgo Tower, but refers people to something written by Italian journalist and critic, Francesco Dal Co, “it’s better not to be original, but good, rather than wanting to be very original and bad.”
At a series of forums called the Holcim Forum on sustainable architecture, Souto de Moura stated, “For me, architecture is a global issue. There is no ecological architecture, no intelligent architecture, no sustainable architecture—there is only good architecture. There are always problems we must not neglect; for example, energy, resources, costs, social aspects—one must always pay attention to all these.”