Form and Structure on Eduardo Souto de Moura’s architecture. B. Moreira1, C. Machado2 1 2
Faculty of Architecture, University of Porto, Portugal. Faculty of Architecture, University of Porto, Portugal.
Regarding the subject “Form and Structure” we propose a study of Souto de Moura’s work through eight topics of architecture organized in a contradictory manner – by pairs – in order to create the necessary tensions and bring back the answers. Four chapters were born. The essay was not only the result of a theoretical investigation/discussion but also of a direct experimentation of some of the architect’s spaces. His practice and theory was then confronted with his own references (written and designed or built). Chapter 1 – Fragment and Unity – allowed us the possibility of showing how The Stijl’s influence was particularly evident in Souto de Moura’s early work: fragments of planes, textures and materials subsequently unified by means of an open space; but Aldo Rossi’s The Architecture of the City was also explored as well as Souto de Moura's vision, learned with Rossi, of the city as a sum of fragments and as an impossible unity. In Chapter 2 – Mass and Skeleton – we focused two distinct building systems explaining Souto de Moura’s affection for reinforced concrete structures; solid concrete walls and slabs relate to The Stijl’s architecture, but also to Northern Portugal’s building tradition of stone walls. The theme of the ruin, as memory and fragment, is also treated in this context. These mass structures are often complemented by a single metallic or concrete column, bringing together Souto de Moura and Álvaro Siza’s work; this chapter also deals with the problem of the building’s skin (and its misuse) related to Le Corbusier’s “Dom-Ino”. Chapter 3 – Evidence and Dissimulation – pretends to show how these topics are the architect’s everyday work – from the global plan to the detail. For Souto de Moura the details must have a minimum expression; complex building systems are therefore dissimulated, resulting in simple (not simplistic) forms, relating his work to Judd’s concept of “minimum”. The building itself may also have a minimum expression on its surroundings, being dissimulated as well, but the opposite can also be true: a building as a landmark. Evidence and Dissimulation also brings us the concept of truth – and a relation (by opposition) between Mies and Souto de Moura becomes evident. Finally, Chapter 4 – Artifact and Nature – confronts the building with its site. For Souto de Moura, the creation of architecture (a manmade Artifact) is the (re)creation of Nature in a way that one can’t be without the other. The theme of the ruin is very important as an evidence of a possible hybrid state between Artifact and Nature. In his first work, the ruin in the Gerês was neither created nor altered – it looks like it was stopped in time. Souto de Moura uses the ruin not only as a building material (reusing remains of old constructions for new purposes, as a fragment and as a memory) but also as a means of justifying the new Artifact (designing ruins when they are not present, as a false or invented fragment of memory). All these tensions lead us to a main conclusion: contradiction in Souto de Moura’s architecture appears not as a goal but as a result of the increasingly complexity of the architectural processes. IJUP 08 - 1st Meeting of Young Researchers at UP