C.A.S.A. Collection, Álvaro Siza Archive

The HOUSE, as an archetype, is at the genesis of all architecture. From the primordial hut to contemporary residences, humanity has since filled its world with houses — an essential unit of the urban and rural fabrics, of family and collective life. However, dwelling now transcends the deceiving simplicity of home to encompass work environments, ecumenical spaces, entertainment and educational buildings, among several others.

It is therefore unsurprising that this anthropocentric and multifaceted nature of community living is so deeply rooted in Álvaro Siza’s work. Like most architects, Siza started his career with small homely designs, from his grandmother’s kitchen to his uncle’s gate. The very first private and public commissions were a set of Four Houses, not far from his parents’ home, and a Tea House, on the other side of the River Leça, facing the Atlantic.

This exhibition thusly focuses on the Serralves Foundation Archive, particularly on the seminal experiences of his early houses, as well as on the post-revolutionary social housing movement that swept through Europe, and on the invention of a kind of House for the City, in Porto’s unfinished Avenida da Ponte, or a House for the Nation, in the now empty Portuguese Pavilion. Later on, he would propose Houses for Architecture itself, one unbuilt in his hometown of Matosinhos, another recently completed in the Serralves Park.

With a dedicated floor to architecture, the Álvaro Siza Wing was built to be a House for the Collection. Hence why the first and main chapter of the show was named ‘Coming Back Home’, displaying the largest global ensemble of Sizian designs. After all, Serralves has played a major role in denying the old proverb: No one is a prophet in their own land. From the renewal of the Serralves House, to the construction of a Cinema House or a Gardeners House, the Foundation has become its architect’s home away from home, bringing together the extended celebration of his 90th birthday and the Museum’s 25th  anniversary.

One could not help but name the exhibition after that one true word, CASA, which doubles as an acronym for: ‘Collection, Álvaro Siza Archive’. It covers a wide range of projects beyond the walls of Serralves, other Houses of Culture, Houses of Knowledge, Houses of Faith, Houses of Idleness, Houses of Commerce, Houses of the Family, Houses of the People, Houses of Work. Siza’s office is sometimes more of a house than his own apartment, so the nine segments of the exhibition — one for each decade of his life — are topped off by the art that he produces on the side, for sheer pleasure, and which he generously donated the Serralves Collection.

24 February to 24 August 2024
Serralves Museum
Rua D. João de Castro, 210
4150-417 Porto
Serralves Museum
More information