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Spotlight: Álvaro Siza

One of the most highly regarded architects of his generation, Portugese architect Álvaro Siza (born 25 June 1933) is known for his sculptural works that have been described as "poetic modernism." When he was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1992, Siza was credited as being a successor of early modernists: the jury citation describes how "his shapes, molded by light, have a deceptive simplicity about them; they are honest."

Leça Swimming Pools Expo'98 Portuguese National Pavilion. Image © flickr user Pedro Moura Pinheiro Fundação Iberê Camargo. Image © Grazielle Bruscato The Building on the Water. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG + SG

Born in Matosinhos near Porto, as a child Siza wanted to become a sculptor, a predilection that shows itself in his work to this day. However, a trip to Barcelona convinced him to become an architect when he experienced the work of Antoni Gaudí. This sculptural architecture he then knits into its context, connecting his buildings with the site and the culture masterfully.

Leça Swimming Pools
Leça Swimming Pools

A well-known quote by Siza asserts that "architects don't invent anything, they just transform reality," and this might explain the logic behind Siza's restrained style. His work builds on the established models of the Modernists who held sway at the start of his career - and even while the reputation of Modernism has risen and fallen in the years since, Siza has remained largely unaffected by the experimental and transitory movements of the period, instead preferring to subtly, gradually transform his style over the decades.

Expo'98 Portuguese National Pavilion. Image © flickr user Pedro Moura Pinheiro
Expo'98 Portuguese National Pavilion. Image © flickr user Pedro Moura Pinheiro

Siza first gained recognition in the 1960s with his Leça Swimming Pools and his Boa Nova Tea House, and has remained hugely influential ever since: among his most respected works is his gravity-defying Portuguese National Pavilion for the 1998 Expo; his Fundação Iberê Camargo was a joint winner of the first ever Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) in 2014; and at the 2012 Venice Biennale he both completed an exhibition pavilion and was awarded the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.

Fundação Iberê Camargo. Image © Grazielle Bruscato
Fundação Iberê Camargo. Image © Grazielle Bruscato

See all of Álvaro Siza's Works featured on ArchDaily via the thumbnails below, and more coverage below that:

Boa Nova Tea House. Image © Samuel Ludwig Leça Swimming Pools Leça Swimming Pools Santa Maria Church de Canaveses. Image Courtesy of Alvaro Siza Website Expo'98 Portuguese National Pavilion. Image © flickr user Dacian Groza Expo'98 Portuguese National Pavilion. Image © flickr user Pedro Moura Pinheiro Fundação Iberê Camargo. Image © Grazielle Bruscato The Building on the Water. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG + SG Taifong Golf Club. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG + SG Fire Station in Santo Tirso. Image © Joao Morgado - Architecture Photography Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh The Building on the Water. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG + SG

Álvaro Siza wins Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

Siza's Iberê Camargo Foundation and Herzog & de Meuron's 1111 Lincoln Road Win Inaugural MCHAP Award

AR Issues: Architects Don't Invent, They Transform

Reflections On Álvaro Siza's Seminal Quinta da Malagueira Housing Scheme

Alturas de Macchu Picchu: Martín Chambi - Álvaro Siza at work

Travel Diary: Álvaro Siza and Carlos Castanheira by Fernando Guerra

Video: The Obsolescence of a Building, an Interview with Álvaro Siza

Video: Alvaro Siza Denounces Architecture's "Hyper-Specialization"

Video: Alvaro Siza sings The Beatles

Cite:Rory Stott. "Spotlight: Álvaro Siza" 25 Jun 2015. ArchDaily. Accesed . <http://www.archdaily.com/393446/happy-80th-birthday-alvaro-siza/>