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Eduardo Souto de Moura: ‘It would give me great pleasure should people be moved by my work’

Rakesh Ramchurn interviews Eduardo Souto de Moura

My installation is about Classicism and the story of architecture. The history of architecture is the story of the roles played by Greece, the Romans, the Renaissance, Palladio, Mies van der Rohe and afterwards by Robert Venturi and the Postmodernists.

Throughout this history there is a permanence of form and continuity; just as in philosophy, nothing has changed, the problems remain the same. The evolution of architecture has always used the same shape - the Classical; but stronger materials have led to decreasing quantities and thicknesses.

Álvaro Siza’s installation [in the courtyard] and my work should be seen as a conversation. Álvaro and I are close friends - we work on different floors of the same building, and when I finish something I often ask Álvaro what he thinks of it. Our aim was to use shapes from the Classical world - the arch and the column - but repeated using new materials and building systems.

The space between two rooms is not just a void; it’s a filter, a transition, a medium, and in my installation I wanted to draw attention to areas of the building that are usually overlooked.

People use their senses to sleep, to make love, to eat, to enjoy themselves, to relax in open spaces. But the architect should concentrate on the problem, not on the sensations or emotions. These come afterwards.

As an architect, I build to solve problems, not to provoke emotions. However, it would give me great pleasure should people be moved by my work. We design bridges to go from one side of a river to another. It’s a physical problem. But if you design a bridge with an elegant structure, then the whole landscape changes, and people appreciate the bridge more. But the true function of the bridge is to cross the river.

  • Interview by Rakesh Ramchurn

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