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Álvaro Siza: Complete Works

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Philip Jodido’s armchair tour of the works of Álvaro Siza from 1952-2012

Álvaro Siza won the 1988 Mies van der Rohe Prize for the Borges & Irmao Bank – a glorious combination of gentle curves and stark rectilinear shapes that, despite its location in the historic Portuguese town of Vila do Conde, remains respectful to its surroundings.

The bank is most known for its striking exterior but, thankfully, Taschen’s new monograph on the Portuguese architect doesn’t skimp on interior shots, which allow for an appreciation of unique features such as alternations in materials and the use of natural and artificial light.

Similarly with Siza’s famous swimming pool in Leça da Palmeira, lush aerial shots relate the dialogue between the concrete walls and the coastline; in contrast, photos of the sparsely lit changing rooms reveal dark wood and ceramic fi ttings that create much more atmosphere.

This comprehensive monograph begins with the Boa Nova restaurant in Leça da Palmeira and ends with Siza’s work on the Alhambra visitor centre in Spain, covering such works as the Portuguese Pavilion for Expo ’98 in Lisbon and the Iberê Camargo Foundation Museum in Brazil in between.

As one expects from Taschen, this book is very much focused on the visual – each of Siza’s buildings is illustrated with fullcolour exterior and interior shots as well as some of the architect’s original sketches and plans.

However, Philip Jodidio’s short introductions and picture captions don’t do much to inform readers and, with the exception of an essay at the beginning of the book that gives an overview of Siza’s career, those interested in a few hard facts about each project may be left wanting a little more substance.

Álvaro Siza: Complete Works 1952-2012
Philip Jodidio, Taschen, 2013, 500 pages, hardback, £99.99

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