Álvaro Siza

Casa da Arquitectura . Matosinhos


Originaly, it had been envisaged in mere ubane and central sites. Then it all stopped. Some years have gone by. Nobody really knows why. Maybe because of priorities which have nothing to do with Architecture.
Now, It has been allocated to a more peripheral site, beside some fundamental communication Infra-structure: a motorway and the end of the Metro line. It will be neighbouring one of Siza's first buildings, the Parish Centre of Matoslnhos. The rnood seems now more consistent as different wills are together, supporting the Idea and making it progress.






































The Casa da Arquitectura is moving along. A sketch design is taking shape, a design of approximation to a brief, which although also sketchy is one of ambition. You have to have something to hold on to. As Fernando Távora, would say, ’Nothing worse than a blank sheet. If nothing else a little black dot is already a beginning, even if only to be ignored in search for other things'.
The brief is an ambitious one, but then again maybe not. We Portuguese have the bad habit of looking at ourselves as inferior. We would rather be reasonable than to look bad. 'If you fly low, the fall is a lesser one’ is a popular saying, and the people have the knowledge, but also they, are Portuguese. However, the one who flies low cannot see the distance, cannot see from an elevated perspective.
As in other houses of this kind, which we have visited, here also the brief will be that of the necessary components: reception, administration areas, exhibition areas, educational and didactic areas, auditorium, library with its own archive, general archives, tots of them with the possibility of being expanded. Service areas and toilets.
A coffee shop and a bookshop complete the brief. And there also will be outdoor spaces, green spaces, ordered ones.
The exhibition areas, one of large dimensions and two of smaller dimensions, will allow for a rotation of exhibitions: travelling exhibitions or perma­nent ones, off the in house material. They will be aried, thematic, encompassing, polemic, modern, classic, experimental and all else.
The intention is to give great importance to exhibitions of didactic character, aimed at informing and educating those who are not architects, start­ing with the young and even the very young ones, the children. But also for architects: young ones and not so young ones. It is intended to bring architecture to people and people to architecture. But it will afready be deemed to be a success if we can bring the people of architecture to archi­tecture. To its house.
The auditorium will be a complement to these activities, but also a resource that will bring In other activities that may or not be directly connected with those of the house.
The library will be filled, we hope, with donations from friends and donors, as well as the editions of the House itself and also acquired ones. The visual library will establish a universal link for all those who are interested in architecture: architects, researchers, critics.
Administration areas, as required. An archive, various archives, good ones, where logistics (nowadays, archives are no longer archives and have become centers tor logistics) is a priority ot first importance: in them, will be kept in a secure but accessible manner that which there already is and that which there will be. It is the duty ot those who produce architecture to do it. and if so inclined to entrust the I louse with material ot documental interest. The House will then put this material in order, preserve it and make it known.
Rooms for consultation, study and research, linked to the library and archives.
Workshops for maintenance and conservation, workshops for production and maintenance of the various arts.
Generous, public spaces, welcoming ones. As you would expect in a house for good entertainment and joviality, always jovial. Servicing facilities that are meant for internal use but also to be shared.
Service areas as required, for comfort, for security, for the people. The sketch design is coming forth.
The building which we hope to be a great one, will certainly be an ample and dynamic one. A contemporary piece of work, but a piece of now and also of always, as all good architecture is.
It is a proposal ol participation and one that hopes to be participative, it will probably be polemic, as the Family is a large ore, full of difference: for there are many wills, many tastes, many tendencies, many convictions.
So much diversity, so much creativity can only generate quality. Lots of it.
We don't intend to touch Olympus, but we have to fly high.
Carlos Castanheira


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