The second largest city in Portugal, Porto is a major urban centre. Walking around Porto, historic and derelict buildings slot into the street frontages seamlessly. The dramatic landscape, varying levels and streaching out into fingers across the Rio Douro river, spectacular vistas appear suddenly at a turn.
The brief is to create an Architectural Museum and Archive to contain and display the work of national treasure Alvaro Siza and his teacher and collegues, Eduardo Souto De Moura and Frenando Tavora.
The ground of Porto is rugged with granite. Famous for the material, the majority of building in Porto incorporate granite elements. The project site is surrounded by natural exposed rock and is above Siza’s Metro S.Bento. Alvaro Siza creates architecture with the landscape at the forefront, as evident in the Leca Swimming Pools and the Boa Nova Tea House. This was the main inspiration for this project, to use the varying levels and rugged rock on the site to create a museum that encompasses Siza’s love of landscape.
The idea is to educate visitiors about Siza’s approach to design by inviting the landscape into the building. The form of the building is heavy to the elevation which faces the adjacent road and progressively becomes light towards the rocky landscape on the site. The overall form is also inspired by the Sao Bento Metro and expresses the idea of solid and void.
Throughout the project I used models to help understand the topography and levels of the site and to investigate materiality and texture. The design has a deliberate ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ sides, the heavy side being a dark and controlled environment for sensitive exhibitions; the light side is an exhibition in itself, exposing the rough rock.