Santo Tirso Call Center / Aires Mateus

© João Morgado

Architects: Aires Mateus
Location: Santo Tirso,
Collaborators: Marco Arraiolos, Anna Bacchetta, Bruna Parro
Engineering: AFA Consult
Client: Portugal Telecom
Constructor: LENA / ABRANTINA
Surface Area: 4,700 sqm
Built Area: 3,985 sqm
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: João Morgado

The plot assimilates a sequence of different levels, that can be seen from the higher city, in different points and moments. Its position marks the transition between the urban landscape of the city of Santo Tirso, and the natural landscape of a cultivated valley.

section 01
© João Morgado

The project is conceived starting from these existing values: the topography and the border condition.

© João Morgado
© João Morgado

A clear system is organized inside “telluric” volumes gravitating around a big central space. The patios and openings between the volumes register the experience of light during the day.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Santo Tirso Call Center / Aires Mateus" 01 Jun 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • Ricardo

    cubism is so over…

  • Chris Rossi

    lovely! RT @archdaily: Santo Tirso Call Center / Aires Mateus #architecture

  • tfa

    is a project of Álvaro Siza?
    Portuguese architects can not stop following him?
    This is a good project, but I do not need the information to know the country of architects.

    • jml


    • abe

      This, Siza? Go study.

    • bpm

      i don’t really veneer Aires Mateus architecture but one thing I have to regard, considering your comment, which I can’t understand whether it is a compliment or not…cities are the face of a country. If aires mateus are following siza – which i think they aren’t, just check latest works of siza – they are following one idea behind his architectural thought(and,for my opinion,very well): the importance of locus and the way it relates with its context, and the understanding of architecture as a cultural manifestation – as it is art, in general. If most architects wouldn’t disregard these premises they would build better cities (not generic cities,without offering different experiences)
      ps. cubism….i don’t think so…..

  • K

    Amazing that they can get a roof free of any vents or other typical roof elements.

  • FRM

    Very nice.

    Not sure what the cubism comment above means, seeing how this isn’t cubism.

  • Salmon

    Better cubism then new age formalistic thingamagic…

  • Leonardo Ximenes

    Most inspiring building I’ve seen in a long time. Parabens!

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  • PLD

    Did you realize the quality of the road pavement in the roof picture? Spectacular!!!

    the project is really clever elegant and with a great control of the section and light.
    Good exercise of simplicity and elegance.


  • d pinochet

    Amazing, i couldn´t expect less than this amazing office. this is good architecture!!!!, the spaces, light ,etc.
    saying that this is a siza´s knock off it´s just ignorance…
    thumbs up for aires mateus

  • rsantosfernandes

    …if you follow the fashion trends you are already out of fashion! Being creative is exactly doing what you desire and not be worried about the tastes and trends of some kind.

    The overall quality of all their works is really good and unique somehow.
    Being always in mies van der rohe prize finalists says something.

    …these guys will one day win the pritzker prize…

    • Adi

      I just keep proposing them, but no one listens :)

  • Maarten

    Very very nice project. It might look simple, however I wish I had the skills to design with this quality. The details are, as usual from Aires Mateus, amazing!

  • cynosure


  • Mr P

    light years ahead of new Gehry’s work

  • weesht

    Amazed by the some of the mean spirited comments above, resumably left by some hugely talented architects. This is a call centre. To create the quality of space and light, executed with such skill in a building type which is normally a tin shed on the edge of town is nothing short of miraculous. I for one applaud the achievement. As for Siza, well the more buildings that approach his standard the better.

  • Daidaloos

    They could do better with the external spaces, they are not very inviting…

  • B

    This doesn’t look simple, it looks really complicated. After studying the foto’s and plans I still can’t make a lot out of it.

    Although I generally love the portuguese masters, in this case the internal spaces look a bit too internal for me. But again, I don’t understand the plan.

  • realworld

    can get even basic information on material and construction?
    we need more than pictures!

    • Salmon

      I agree! Some details would be nice!

  • jjrl

    Siza is Siza … and Aires Mateus is Aires Mateus .. is totally different things.
    but one thing is certain, Portuguese architecture patent, elegance and a full symbiosis with the environment and image of the place and the city.
    the purity of soul architectural portugese design my friends

  • tfa

    Well, it is not necessary to see the latest projects of siza’s to know that almost all portugueses follow him.
    I like too much siza.. but I don’t think orginal see this kind of project, It doesn’t matter how the latest are. That’s why I say again: It’s a good project I realize also the quality of the architecture, but for me It’s repetitive, boring and don’t have any originality.

    That’s my reserch in just five minutes:

  • bard

    tfa: so what you are trying to tell us from the photos you’ve posted is that using white render walls, skylights and monolithic volumes are trademarks of Siza that every architect shouldn’t be using in order not to be compared to him. alright.

    what about oblique walls, glass façades, exploded spaces, oblique columns? hum… let me think of some stars that are all copying each other with out no one criticising them for it: Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, and so on and so on…They all started to copy Eisenman, but do you give a damn? No!

    And what about this building looking like portuguese architecture? what could possibly be wrong with that?! There are only good things if you can visit a arch blog like this and figure out by yourself where the building is located without looking at the info. I’m sure that 90% of the cases you won’t be able to do that! Is it good to be like that? hell no. Generic architecture has reached its end some years ago. What we see now is just some last generic buildings that were on paper and needed to be built. There won’t be any place for generic architecture in the western world in 5 to 10 years. It will be a way for the western world to stand out from the emerging eastern countries.

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  • tfa

    ok bard.. you alright.
    these architects like Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind has copying Peter Eisenman .. but they somehow they have an identity and originality in your projects and we can identify them without any problem, as with Alvaro Siza too.

    There is no problem in getting an architect an use like reference, but I think every architect should seek their own identity.

    I guess sometimes the Portugueses architects are confused, they confused the Siza’s architecture with de Portugal architecture, they took Siza’s architecture as the characteristic architecture of Portugal.

  • bard

    tfa: I understand your point and frankly that brings us to a whole new subject of discussion. Whether Siza’s architecture is “typical” of a country and whether a country historically has a “typical” architecture. There are people doing PhDs about that, so it is a very complex matter.
    Although simplistically I can answer to does 2 questions negatively. But at the same time We must admit that historically, Portugal never had the same architecture as Britain or even as France and even if you cross the border to Spain you will see that the architecture changes. It has to do with regional context, economics, culture, evolution, and so on. So you may ask: So why do I say that there isn’t a characteristic architecture of Portugal (or of any other country)? It is simply because countries frontiers often don’t correspond exactly to regional frontiers, to cultural distinctions. So that’s why you go to Granada and you have a whole Arabic architecture experience without getting out of Europe.
    Even in Portugal, a small country, has a really diverse set of regions that changes the way people live and react. Therefore, over the years of the regime, there was a clear attempt to make Portuguese architecture the same from west to east from north to south. At that time the most prominent architect was Raul Lino who soon saw a nationalist interpretation of his work and began to see the whole country dressed up of white single story houses even in plain mountains where people have always built their houses with stones, not with clay.
    In this way, I still can’t agree with you when you refer “characteristic architecture of Portugal” because there isn’t one. There are plenty. And the way Siza became so successful was precisely in the way he interpreted the local aspects of society and designed a specific building for that place. That is why his architecture is so diverse in typologies.
    I agree that there is a degree of confusion of in order to make good architecture you need to compare yourself to Siza’s works, although this is really not the case with Aires Mateus nor with the majority of good contemporary portuguese architects. The one’s that spend all day trying to copy Siza’s elements they will never be good architects nor be recognized as so. But most of the times they’ll make good money though.