Alvaro Siza

Church, Portugal, by Alvaro Siza - front door

This is the Parish Church Complex of Marco de Canevezes, Portugal. It was designed by Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza with Rolando Torgo and completed in 1990. It’s a deceptively simple building. Its most obvious feature is a stunning pair of tall, narrow front doors matched by beautiful pew chairs in the same warm orange wood, but one of its real achievements is the way Siza exploited natural light and the daily movement of the sun to create changing shapes and moods in the altar.

Church, Portugal, by Alvaro Siza - interior

Even for a non-believing non-churchgoer, church architecture can be extremely compelling. This is not surprising given the fact that church architecture is specifically designed for inspiration, contemplation and the freeing of the mind from distractions and harrassments, rather than for more utilitarian or venal purposes (not that religion can’t be venal too, but that’s a different issue). With increasing social secularization it strikes me that this meditative effect is what many of us are trying to achieve in our own spaces, for better or for worse. Of course it’s this modern mood of expansive whiteness that is being emulated, rather than the dark, gargoyle-ridden behemoths of European stone cathedral architecture. This church, which seems to be more about soothing the mind than fearing god, is one of my favourite Siza buildings. If you’re interested in reading more about Siza, look here (and if you click on the Pritzker jury citation it gives a sense of why they gave him the prize in 1992). His own website is here, and there is a good Flickr set of his Serpentine installation in London here. The photos in this post are from a favourite back issue of Domus, the superb Italian architecture magazine, from March 1998. More photos of this beautiful church are here.

Church, Portugal, by Alvaro Siza - Altar

Steps by architect Alvaro Siza

Church, Portugal, by Alvaro Siza - side steps

Church, Portugal, by Alvaro Siza - Exterior

In the photo below, you can see the two low, vertical windows that bring vertical spires of light into the altar.

Church, Portugal, by Alvaro Siza - exterior

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Responses to “Alvaro Siza”

  1. Lee Says:

    I hope it’s ok that I posted a couple of images of the church on my blog. Can I tell you how much I adore the images you find. I check your blog everyday. always inspiration!

    lee
    2or3

  2. ii-ne-kore Says:

    wow – that is beautiful. modern churches that are breath-taking architecture even for the non-religious soul, amazing. i am sure you know ando’s church of light as well! but just in case: http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/churchoflight/index.htm

  3. How rooms and architecture affect mood and creativity | Ouno Design Says:

    […] millennia in other places. I’m thinking of the carefully worked-out design of monasteries and churches as places that generate inspiration and contemplation for example, or the genius of  Japanese […]

  4. E’s not dead, e’s just resting… « Architecture In Berlin Says:

    […] (image thanks, OunoDesign) […]

  5. Wow « Some Things I Know Says:

    […] literally takes my breath away. It is located in Portugal and was designed by Alvaro Siza. (Via ouno.) Hello I'm Andrea, one of the two people behind Some Things I Know Design. Check us […]

  6. . « Some Things I Know Says:

    […] takes my breath away. It’s located in Portugal and was designed by Alvaro Siza. (Via ouno.) Hello I'm Andrea, one of the two people behind Some Things I Know Design. Check us […]

Leave a Reply