Eduardo Souto de Moura is one of the best Portuguese architects of all times. In 2011, his artwork was distinguished with a Pritzker Prize – the main distinguishment for architecture. The architect took Portuguese architecture beyond borders. His work has redesigned Portuguese modern architecture by inserting new concepts into his projects. Just last year, in 2018, Eduardo Souto de Moura has been distinguished again internationally, this time with the Golden Lion in the Venice Biennale.
One of his main artworks is Casa das Histórias – Paula Rego, a museum inaugurated in 2009 and dedicated to the exhibition of one of the best Portuguese painters. About that, Eduardo Souto de Moura defends that the amazing building is not a sculpture.
“A sculpture has no function inside. If I cut a sculpture, inside there will be nothing. Paula Rego Museum is architecture because the museum is a complex of several buildings. They contain drawings, paintings, and installations for the permanent collection, a bookshop, a cafeteria, and one space in the middle for temporary exhibitions. The museum is very small, just on the ground floor, so from a distance, you can’t see it. Where is the museum? So I proposed to identify these different spaces of the museum with red towering forms in contrast to the greenery and tall trees all around. The scale of these forms is similar to a palace nearby and the materials I used are similar to other memorable buildings in the area. So the museum is constructed out of my memory of the place.”
Although the architect denies a connection between his works and sculpture, it’s almost impossible to look at his work and don’t see sculptural influences in them.
The Portuguese architect is a real surprise: he doesn’t believe in having an intention behind architecture “I hate when architects try to explain their intentions by saying that they want to make poetic architecture, for example”.
On the other side, Eduardo Souto de Moura believes that an object on itself “is enough. I am not interested in knowing what the author wanted to say. I want to read and interpret architecture for myself.”
However, Souto de Moura still wants to express his “personal opinion. I am my own client, meaning that first, I do architecture for myself. If I am happy, if my work is useful, and it makes my client happy then the goal is achieved.”
About his creative process, the architect reveals that “is not wise to start from scratch”. He often recycles previous projects and adapts them to the new situation. Then, he transforms them and creates new projects, just not from scratch.
“Architecture is all about copying. We copy the things that we see. But when this copying process happens consciously it is a disaster. It should be subconscious, almost unintentional.”
Influenced by Mies, even though he’s only present in a few of his projects, such as Torre do Burgo, in Porto, what the architect loves the most in his work is that “he’s perhaps the most contradictory architect. He said one thing but did something entirely different. He designed glass buildings but lived in a 19th-century stone neoclassical building. Mies said, “Beauty is the mirror of truth.” But look at his detail drawings. I have a whole collection of them here. All of those drawings are lies!”, he defends.
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