In an essay and accompanying mini-documentary film by Ellis Woodman for The Architectural Review, Siza's iconic Quinta da Malagueira housing estate (1973-1977) in Évora, Portugal, is comprehensively explored and examined with a refreshingly engaging critical weight. Rather than develop multi-story housing in the sensitive landscape around the city, Siza proposed "a plan that distributed the programme between two fields composed of low-rise terraced courtyard houses." As a result, the arrangement of these structures adjust to the "undulating topography ensuring that the narrow, cobbled streets along which the houses are distributed always follow the slope."
As is made clear in the film (above), one of the remarkable aspects about the Quinta da Malagueira estate is that it is "governed by a third layer of infrastructure" which takes the form of "an elevated network of conduits that distributes water and electricity [...] much in the manner of a miniature aqueduct." For Siza, this was a logical move as it provided the cheapest means of distributing utilities around the complex. Woodman ultimately concludes that "Siza’s work at Malagueira invites a reading less as a fixed artefact and rather as one episode in the site’s ongoing transformation."
At the Expo ’98 Portuguese National Pavilion, structure and architectural form work in graceful harmony. Situated at the mouth of the Tagus River in Lisbon, Portugal, the heart of the design is an enormous and impossibly thin concrete canopy, draped effortlessly between two mighty porticoes and framing a commanding view of the water. The simple, gestural move is both weightless and mighty, a bold architectural solution to the common problem of the covered public plaza. Under the graceful touch of Álvaro Siza Vieira, physics and physical form theatrically engage one another, and simplicity and clarity elevate the pavilion to the height of modern sophistication.