Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza this week announced to donate his architectural archive to public architectural institutions in Portugal and Canada. The decision was motivated by Siza's desire of fostering discussion and dialogue in a research-oriented context.
One part of the archive will be donated to the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal, and the other part will be given to two Portuguese institutions, the Fundação Gulbenkian in Lisbon and the Fundação de Serralves in Porto.
“The CCA is thrilled to accept this generous donation," remarked CCA Director Mirko Zardini. "I have known Álvaro Siza and followed his work closely for several decades. His architecture escapes easy classification, but always offers a lesson – a new way of seeing the world around us. His buildings have a distinct character and particular relationship to their urban or natural settings, always born from the desire to participate in the world. Siza’s drawings and sketches reflect his ability to capture the essence of a place through careful observation. No matter in which country he works, the finished buildings are always distinctly of the place as much as they are distinctly his. His vision on architecture and the city generates a new dialogue within the CCA collection.”
In a written statement from July 23, 2014, published on the CCA's website, Álvaro Siza explains his decision:
"During the last years I have sensed the need to organize the archive of my many years of activity dedicated to architecture. The demand of students and architects to consult these files, and the suggestions I have received on how to make these documents accessible, has led me to seek out a well-considered solution. During this process the strong interest on the part of individuals and institutions was confirmed, which has touched and motivated me.
"For some time now, drawings and models from my archive can be found in architecture collections in Paris (Beaubourg), New York (MoMA), and London (Niall Hobhouse Collection). It is my desire that so many years of work can become useful in many ways, as a contribution to the research and debate on architecture, particularly in Portugal and with a perspective opposed to isolation – as it is already taking place today and this is indispensable. I initiated some conversations, I listened to recommendations, and I have now formed my own idea on the way my archive should be organized, and how and where to locate it.
"I have chosen to:
1. donate to two Portuguese institutions that already have the experience, quality and capacity to develop or enlarge their respective archives (Fundação Gulbenkian and Fundação de Serralves) with the goal of increasing access, dissemination and active participation in a debate that is no longer simply national nor centered on an individual.
2. donate to the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal, an institution of unequaled 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. Based on recent conversations, CCA is open to collaborate with Fundação Gulbenkian and Fundação de Serralves to establish a consistent cataloguing system and to share the research and related programming.
"The Cultural Representative of the City of Porto, Paulo Cunha e Silva, has informed me of the decision to create an exhibition space for the architecture of the city, particularly focusing on models. I have expressed my support in participating to initiate this new collection and believe in the importance of this project for the general public and the debate on architecture."