Ver 2006 Anyang Pavilion Álvaro Siza num mapa maior
The invitation, sudden and urgent. A small city of 300,000 inhabitants had launched a project for a cultural complex right in front of a natural park, wedged in amongst beautiful mountains. A multifunctional pavilion was needed as a complementary, but central element. Álvaro Siza’s name was mentioned and the invitation was answered, in person, in Porto.
This was an urgent matter and I immediately went to the site, to look around, take note, and bring back the necessary bases for an architect’s work, as the theme was sober: a multifunctional space, a small, possibly multifunctional office, perhaps for the police, and toilets for those who walk the park’s paths as well as for those who remain around the square or go to the local restaurants. Jun, a Korean architect who studied abroad, interned in Porto, and who is now based in Seoul has been a friend of mine for 20 years, and was waiting for me upon arrival. Our friendship and profession would establish the necessary connection. Arriving at the site, the urgency is present, the urgency of the urgency is present, because that is the way the country is, like its people and lifestyle.
There is time to decide, but after decision comes the urgency. There is great euphoria at APAP 2005 – Anyang Public Art Project 2005. Many artists and a few architects have already confirmed it. There is some concern. Can so many guests of so many nationalities comprehend the urgency? Calmly, we gather elements, take photographs, solicit detailed plans, search for documentation, search for architectural precedents, most of it destroyed in the wars, for current architecture of merit
….our friends help and point things out.
The site is an open space, shorn from the mountain, a square to be created. There are already compromises, perhaps they can be coordinated, even eliminated, we shall see. Back in Porto and the West. I try to transmit the experience, way of life, flavours and foundations of the work. Siza receives, perceives, questions and interprets like no other. From the first work session, a few timid, interpretive blueprints are made. The second session, supported by a model of the site, is more approximate, form becomes form, content in search of a programme. Other sessions follow, primarily on Saturdays and Sundays. The atmosphere is excellent. Models are built, scale is increased, the blueprints require alterations of the plans, models and 3Ds. It is necessary to return to Korea and present the project to the client.
Upon arrival, we are informed that the presentation is at 4:00pm. At four o’clock the meeting begins: the mayor, necessary council members, directors and as well as technicians, local architects and guests. Brief presentation of Álvaro Siza’s work, presentation of the proposal, some translation, intelligent questions, necessity of increasing the number of toilets, nothing that prevents the formal approval of the proposal, carrying out the necessary, requested alterations. Expression of thanks for the quality of the work, but also the urgent press for time. It is time to start construction, it’s urgent, and the snow…Seven o’clock, confirmation dinner to express satisfaction with the project, its acceptance and official approval. Back home, the process, though identical, is another, as we have proceeded to the execution phase. Adaptations to small alterations in the project, to the forms, and the form to the project. The designs acquire scale, rigour, but always follow the blueprint and the blueprint follows the rigour of execution. Construction starts and the designs continue. The Net permits the exchange of information, but also allows you to see the work progress despite the distance. Despite the urgency, the pleasure at seeing the work advance forward, unrestrained by bureaucracy, provides pleasure, because ours is a different reality.
Back again for the opening of the park and to visit the construction site. An entire, rough volume of grey almost white concrete intuits the light. An exquisite execution born of urgency. The site was made for the volume and the volume rises from the site. Of the remainder of the square, little could be saved, we are left with our half. The Parque, fair of the vanities, is pleasing…; displeasing, the capacity of implementation amazes me. Very little is ok, much is of a temporary nature, even disposable. What is good will remain, time will not be merciful. Infrastructures, M & E services, finishings, materials, preparations for the next phase are discussed. In Porto, the final design is being followed up with our support almost in real time.
Back again, a great surprise, despite the exchange of photos. Entering the finished space is sublime, as is the light. Not at all static, when we move, the space sings, as Siza would say. It is introverted when required, extroverted in its perspectives, in its passages, in the volumetry of the form and materials. The client and the city respectfully ask and the pavilion takes the name of Anyang – Álvaro Siza Hall. Already in use, the inauguration is just around the corner.
Carlos Castanheira, architect.
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