In 2014, Álvaro Siza donated his extensive archive of built and unbuilt projects since 1958 to three institutions, – the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, the Serralves Foundation in Oporto and the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal. Through this exceptional case of international institutional collaboration, the three institutions have committed to the establishment of a joint methodology of archival process and description that will allow collective access to Siza’s significant body of work.
With the donation of his archive, Álvaro Siza expressed his “desire that so many years of work can become useful in many ways, as a contribution to research and debate on architecture, particularly in Portugal and with a perspective opposed to isolation”. As a result he communicated his decision to “donate to two Portuguese institutions that already have the experience, quality and capacity to develop or enlarge their respective archives with the goal of increasing access, dissemination and active participation in a debate that is no longer simply national nor centered on an individual,” and to “donate to the CCA in Montreal, an institution of unequalled experience and prestige and with a sustained series of activities – exhibitions, publications, research, relations with other related institutions and large visibility. As the CCA is recognized for its experience in the preservation and presentation of international archives, it will care for a large part of my archive and make it accessible alongside the work of other modern and contemporary architects.”
The complete archive shared by the three institutions represents his life-long interest and study of houses, housing, and city planning, as well as designs for cultural centres, museums, and universities throughout Europe, Asia, and South America. It currently includes textual documents, correspondence, photographs and slides, around 60.000 drawings, 500 models, 282 sketchbooks, and the archive of born digital material.
The parts of the archive held by both the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Serralves Foundation are focused on Siza´s projects in Portugal and date from 1958 until 2006. The parts held by the CCA comprise projects of international resonance dating from 1958 until today. All projects from 2006 and moving forward will be part of the archive holdings at the CCA.
As of February 2018, the archival descriptions will begin to become available online in the search engines of the CCA, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Serralves Foundation, including early projects from the 1950s and 1960s, as well as projects for the IBA competition of Berlin and urban renewal projects in The Hague from the 1980s. The projects include Bonjour Tristesse, Punt en Komma, the Boa Nova Tea House and Restaurant, the Swimming Pool at Leça de Palmeira, the Borges & Irmão Bank, the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto (FAUP), the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, the António Carlos Siza house, the renovation of the Caretaker’s house – Vieira de Castro house. Over the next years, further archival material will be made accessible for research.
Álvaro Joaquim de Melo Siza Vieira (born 1933) emerged in the late 1950s at the forefront of developing a new architectural language adapted to the cultural and social context of Portugal. Over his long and distinguished career Siza’s work has been widely recognized. He received the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1992 and the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in 2012, among many other recognitions.
Serralves Foundation, Oporto
The Serralves Foundation is one of Europe’s most renowned institutions for contemporary art and culture. It is uniquely sited on the Serralves 18-hectare Park, designed by famous French architect Jacques Greber in the 1930s and perfectly preserved. The Park is constituted by a wide variety of magnificent spaces and it is the scenario for a series of activities that encourage informed enjoyment of the space and reflection about the environment and about the landscape as a cultural construction. The Serralves Foundation also comprises the Serralves Villa (a unique example of Art Deco architecture, built in the 1930s and currently serving as exhibition space) and the Serralves Museum, the foremost museum for contemporary art in Portugal and one of the most relevant in Europe. The Museum, designed by Álvaro Siza, opened in 1999. Through its collection, temporary exhibitions, performance, education and public programmes, and national and international collaborations, the Museum fosters the understanding and appreciation of contemporary art and culture in Portugal and around the world.
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon
Established in 1956, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, bequeathed by the last will and testament of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian (1869-1955), is a Portuguese private institution of public utility whose statutory aims are in the fields of Arts, Charity, Education and Science. The Foundation undertakes its activities structured around its headquarters in Lisbon (Portugal) and its delegations in Paris (France) and London (the United Kingdom).
The Art Library exists since 1968. It is a non-circulating research library devoted primarily to art history, visual arts, architecture and design containing over 190.000 volumes, around 190 titles of current periodicals, multimedia documents and more than 180 special collections that have been enriched by donation or by acquisition of private collections and archives of Portuguese artists and art historians, photographers and architects. Álvaro Siza’s materials donated to the Foundation will join a pre-existing group of architectural archives of renowned Portuguese architects from the 20th century, such as: Raul Lino, Luís Cristino da Silva and Manuel Tainha.
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal
The CCA is an international research centre and museum founded in 1979 by Phyllis Lambert, on the conviction that architecture is a public concern. Based on its extensive collection, exhibitions, public programs, publications and research opportunities, the CCA is advancing knowledge, promoting public understanding, and widening thought and debate on architecture, its history, theory, practice, and role in society today. Offering a unique environment dedicated to the study and presentation of architectural thought and practice, Álvaro Siza’s work can be studied in the context of the international archives of Peter Eisenman, Arthur Erickson, John Hejduk, Gordon Matta-Clark, Cedric Price, Aldo Rossi, James Stirling, as well as Pierre Jeanneret, Abalos & Herreros, Foreign Office Architects, and others housed at the CCA.