Family architecture lifestyle
Porto is one of the cities in the world where architecture is an evident sign of innovation and attraction. The renowned architect Eduardo Souto de Moura and his daughter, Luisa Souto de Moura, interweave their professional vision into a conversation in which they describe new, architectural and vital projects.
Until March 2021, the most complete retrospective of the architect’s career over the last forty years can be seen at the exhibition “Souto de Moura – Memory, Projects, Works” at the Casa da Arquitectura in Porto, curated by Francesco Dal Co and Nuno Graça Moura.
Eduardo Souto de Moura’s architecture is not surprising for its grandeur, it does not arouse amazement at first glance, nor does it generate an immediate sense of impact. The grandness and intelligence of Eduardo Souto de Moura’s architecture lies in its subtlety, in the rediscovery of the origins of matter, of each hidden structure and of each crease of constructive memory.
The numerous prizes he has amassed (the Pritzker Prize in 2011, the Wolf Prize in 2013, the tribute to his career at the Porcelanosa Awards in 2014, the Piranesi Prize in 2017, the Golden Lion from the Venice Biennale in 2018, among others) are an indication of a historical contribution to architecture with a lucid and singular vision, the search for roots and tradition as the path towards a new form of humanism, culture as an essential element for rethinking new ways of life, architecture of re-making rather than making.
Family by blood and family by choice
A vision shared by the family of architecture that surrounds him. First, the foundation of the renowned Porto School, a school of teaching and the practice of architecture at which he was himself a student and a teacher (he retired last year), whose impression still remains today in the students of the more than twenty schools of design, fine arts and architecture across the country.
Secondly, his pairing with the architect Fernando Tavora, as his first teacher, and with Álvaro Siza, both in his early years collaborating at his studio, and later as colleagues following symmetrical paths. Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura work in harmony with the friendship and philosophy of their work. They are two living legends of contemporary architecture, but you would never know. They each contend the degree of humility and modesty with which they approach their architectural projects, with which they express their motivations and with the thoughtful serenity with which they explain their work. They are both mild and meticulous in nature, and they even spend their day-to-day inside the same building in which they have the studio, designed by Álvaro Siza.
Finally, the family tree is completed with blood bonds, the symbiosis of ideas and sensitivity with his lifelong partner, María Luisa Penha, also an architect and painter who, in fact, worked with Álvaro Siza for over thirty years. Their three daughters: María Eduarda also studied architecture and she is a painter; María Paz, the middle child, is a nurse; and Luisa, the eldest, is an architect and she worked many years in her father’s studio, and in recent years she decided to take a new path in life. Her latest project is the management of the new Duas Portas hotel, opposite the River Duero.
We met the architect and his daughter Luisa at the recently opened family hotel, the Duas Portas, and at the presentation of the publication dedicated to the architect’s work: Archives #4 (Journal of Architecture 01.2019), a tour of his latest works through “his passion and determination,” as described by Carlos Quintàns, the publication’s editor. A book that is complemented now with the most comprehensive retrospective of the architect’s career, on exhibition at the Casa da Arquitectura in Matosinhos, Porto under the title “Souto de Moura, memory, projects, works”, which will remain open until March 2021.
“This is an important moment for my father and my family, with new projects and a look back at past projects, which we are all analysing. We are looking ahead. They have taught us to travel, to awaken our curiosity, to learn from the little details of life”, says Luisa Souto de Moura.
María Luisa Penha is behind the renovation of the building opposite the Douro River, which includes the Da Terra restaurant and the Duas Portas hotel, managed by Luisa Souto de Moura and other family members, such as Miguel Ribeiro. The Duas Portas hotel is located in Foz, between Matosinhos and the centre of Porto. The renovation evidences her extensive experience of over thirty years working in Álvaro Siza’s studio, with a design line under familiar parameters.
“The lines planned by my mother follow the family aesthetics and ethics: maximum simplicity, a serene and harmonious environment, light as a cohesive element between spaces, handcrafted furniture and other pieces designed by us, and finally, art as a conceptual inspiration. Art has always been very present in our family: our father began studying Fine Arts, my mother paints and my sister, María Eduarda, decided to dedicate herself to painting after developing her career as an architect. Her delicate and expressive painting gives balance to certain specific corners of the hotel, together with other pictorial works by my mother”, said Luisa.
In our conversation with Eduardo and Luisa in the hotel courtyard, Eduardo Souto de Moura expresses his opinion and ideas with his famous sense of humour: “The air of our family is present in all spaces. This hotel is very well dimensioned, the light of the Douro River gives it shape.
We continue to pursue hidden beauty that appears when you least expect it. The beauty of the minimalist details, of functionality with no other significance. The sense of intimacy, the play of light and shadow that we highlight in the chapel of the Venice Biennial has been lost”, he notes about the Duas Portas hotel and his latest work at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennial, a basic chapel in connection with the surrounding nature, with a humble bench for sitting and contemplation.
The connection of memory
“The journeys of our lives are our way of looking and remembering. After years of personal journeys, I wanted to turn my experience to the Duas Portas project with the support of my family. My goal is for hotel customers to experience a more complete way of connecting with Porto, not just merely passing through the city”, added Luisa Souto de Moura.
This concept was also influenced by her father, who champions spaces designed on a human scale, for the enjoyment and use of people.
“We are still interested in the process as part of the natural evolution of architecture, an architecture/laboratory for reviewing ideas, levity in contrast to consistency, the time between the past and the present, adaptation to what exists now, traditional materials and innovative materials, such as those from Porcelanosa”, says the architect –Eduardo Souto de Moura has collaborated with Porcelanosa for years, he created a L’Antic Colonial showroom–.
“The memory of the places must remain, as well as the essence of the roots, the family”, concludes Eduardo Souto de Moura.
Eduardo Chillida and the architectural dimension of his sculpture, the transcendence of space and time