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The Porto School and Contemporary Architecture in Portugal

Fundação de Serralves CC BY-NC-ND

Prepare to fall in love with a city full of wonderful features.
Porto makes those who have yet to visit dream and those who have already been there yearn to return. The art visible in the streets travelled on foot or by car is one of the reasons for this strength of passion, and it has even been internationally recognised.
Discover the Porto School and the architectural legacy it has left in the north, and visit and observe its most curious elements.

The Porto School

Portugal has been transformed and modernised by the architects redesigning it. Architecture is the result of significant hard work and inspiration, and it boosts creativity and refreshes spaces by adding novelty. It is the object of studies, comments and photographers’ lenses and all cities marked by great architectural creations offer greatly enriching tours.  
This is the case in Porto, known as the ‘undefeated city’, where the Porto School emerged (promoted primarily by the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Porto and the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Porto), which continues to influence the organisation and uniqueness of both public and private spaces even today. Several other universities have also been inspired by the ideology of the School, which transmits a simple, vivid language by means of the pure white used, a certain minimalism and the use of transparency.
Despite being based on the premises of modernism, this style of architecture blends in by adapting to the natural or urban site in which it inserts itself. Internationally, the so-called ‘Portuguese architecture’ of the late 20th century largely reflects the work undertaken by this School. 

Two Pritzker prize winners: Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto Moura

Two Pritzker prize winners attended the Porto School, one was Álvaro Siza Vieira (who won in 1992 with the Portugal Pavilion created for the global Expo’ 98 event, which took place in Lisbon) and the other Eduardo Souto Moura (who won in 2011 with the Municipal Stadium of Braga, located in the region of Porto and the North). This prize is the equivalent of a Nobel prize in architecture, and it has acted to incentivise creativity in the profession, which according to the principles of the School, serves the population in ways far beyond the aesthetic.
Álvaro Siza Vieira (1933) has developed numerous projects for cities, social housing and other residences, swimming pools, cooperatives and churches, all of which are characterised by a concern for adapting to the existing context, renewing it and making it original. And, despite his advanced age, he continues to design. In Porto, you can see more than 40 of his works, including the Museum of Contemporary Art – Serralves Foundation.
Eduardo Souto Moura (1952) was a pupil of Siza Vieira, leaving as a source of inspiration a style of house with a flat roof, stone walls and large windows. His focus was on social development, and his close work with Siza Vieira allowed the country to gain prestige in the field of contemporary architecture. A tour of Souto Moura’s work in the north would take in around 40 different sites, including a children’s library, the Casa das Artes and various metro stations in Porto (one of which is the Casa da Música station). 

Other architects: Fernando Távora and Marques da Silva

Among a number of key proponents of this infinite art form, Fernando Távora (1923-2005) and Marques da Silva (1869-1947) stand out as teachers and authors of the first marks on the city of Porto. It is even said that the latter helped shape the physiognomy of Porto, and a potential tour of his works would include around 24 sites, including houses, secondary schools, monuments and theatres, among which is the Casa-Atelier Marques da Silva itself.
Meanwhile, Fernando Távora is considered the father of the Porto School, and was the teacher of the Portuguese architects who won the Pritzker prize. He produced a vast body of work, remodelling buildings, upgrading the Palácio do Freixo, the Praça Almeida Garret and the pedestal of the statue, and completing the installation of the treasure in Porto Cathedral, among other works for the country.
Projects from the School continue to emerge. In 2015, an important project for the development of tourism in the region was unveiled, the Porto Leixões Cruise Terminal (in Matosinhos). This was the result of ten years of work by Luís Pedro Silva, who also studied at the Porto School.
The primary benefit of this art form which is so close to people is that everyone can enjoy its beauty and utility in person. We suggest you contact us to create an unforgettable tour programme which is suited to your family, company or group of friends.

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