“Openings” Tom Emerson in conversation with the Álvaro Siza Archive

‘Conversations with the Álvaro Siza Archive’ is a new series of exhibitions aimed at placing the work of Álvaro Siza in dialogue with some of the most relevant contemporary architectural practices. Invited to act as guest curator for each individual exhibition, an architect is asked to select materials from the Álvaro Siza Archive and present them in connection to his/her own work.


Alvaro Siza, Casa Beires, glazing detail © Serralves Museum


Tom Emerson, of London-based practice 6a architects, will be the first guest curator in the series. Alvaro Siza met with students for the close of seminar week. “The Portuguese Way” took us from Lisbon to Porto guided by artists, manufacturers and architects, around their cities and landscapes leading us to the architecture of Tavora, Siza and Souto de Moura, the three generations who have shaped Portuguese architecture as we know it today.


Practical information

October 27, 2018 – January 27, 2018
Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
R. Dom João de Castro 210,Porto,


Openings play a very special role in the history of architecture and in the life of an architect. Openings are all the holes cut into constructed volumes for the passage of people, light and air. Mostly these are managed by doors and windows. They are in many respects the most active and useful of architectural elements, constantly opening and closing to allow the necessities of life to pass from outside to inside while excluding the perils we wish to avoid. Doors and windows have to be robust to withstand extremes of climate and use over decades, even centuries. Yet they are also the site of our most intimate encounter with architecture, the first touch of the building as you enter and the last as you leave. The opening of the window starts the daily exchange between our private selves and the world beyond, which is why openings occupy such an important part of the architect’s imaginative and technical effort. Openings reveal the most profound relationships between an individual and society.


Alvaro Siza, “Openings” © Serralves Museum


The construction detail drawings presented in the exhibition have been selected from a collection of over 6,000 drawings in the Álvaro Siza Archive held at the Serralves Foundation. They chart the evolution of Siza’s architecture from 1954 to the mid-1970s. Focusing on the first two decades of the architect’s long career, the exhibition not only provides an opportunity to examine some important, even if lesser known, early projects, but it also intersects political and architectural developments which were to fundamentally change Portugal and Siza’s work after the 1974 Revolution.


Alvaro Siza, “Openings” © Serralves Museum


The exhibition, organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, is curated by Tom Emerson in conversation with Carles Muro, Adjunct Curator for Architecture Programmes at the Serralves Museum.


News source: Serralves Museum
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