Presenting the work of Alvaro Siza in 80 pages is a daunting and somewhat audacious task, almost rash, ant' certainly destined to leave out many of his important works. This volume, far from being an extensive review, attempts to show some of the most characteristic features of his architecture through ten recent projects. Paradoxically, Siza's creative philosophy can be condensed to fit on a few scraps of paper: his sketches. If we look attentively at these notes, we will be able to discern all those concepts on which this brilliant Portuguese architect bases his work.
On the one hand, we find the importance he gives to place: one look at the sketches he makes in situ prior to presenting a proposal will suffice. The emplacement becomes the project's nucleus, establishing a dialogue with the site and reinterpreting it, without mimicking it, in order to assign it the role of the foundation of his constructions.
Another of the constants is the profound social conscience. The people who appear in his drawings are not there by chance, but to provide a human scale for his architecture. Siza does not draw up abstract illusions, he constructs buildings for people, constantly bearing in mind the material and spiritual requisites of their users.
Siza's passion for building also shines through in his sketches, where he is able to explore a multiplicity of solutions for the details: anchoring systems, intersections, facings, baseboards, carpentry.... The millimeter-by-millimeter precision allows him to shape the whole and to offer our senses diminutive pleasures.
Sensitivity to the material is another of Siza's facets. Textures and facings are as important in his buildings as is the treatment of light. The lines used in his sketches obey the cutting-up, the assembly, of the materials. The fineness of the stone, the luminosity of the plaster, or the warmth inherent in the wood all blend to bring about comfortable and beautiful environments. Siza's architecture is concentrated in his sketches and plans, simply that, definitively, in the widest sense of the word. Because it is nourished by parameters that are social, historical, formal, technical, constructive and, above all, of an astonishing and imaginative sensitivity that allows him to create tremendously poetic spaces.
This book is a visual journey through the virtues contained in Siza's work, by way of sketches, plans, and some magnificent photography.