The architecture of Alvaro Siza is a joy to the senses and uplifts the spirit. Each line and curve is placed with skill and sureness.
Like the early Modernists, his shapes, molded by light, have a deceptive simplicity about them; they are honest. They solve design problems directly. If shade is needed, an overhanging plane is placed to provide it. If a view is desired, a window is made. Stairs, ramps and walls all appear to be foreordained in a Siza building. That simplicity, upon closer examination however, is revealed as great complexity. There is a subtle mastery underlying what appears to be natural creations. To paraphrase Siza’s own words, his is a response to a problem, a situation in transformation, in which he participates.
If Post Modernism had not claimed the term, and distorted its meaning, Alvaro Siza’s buildings might legitimately have been called by that name. His architecture proceeds directly from Modernist influences that dominated the field from 1920 to 1970.
While Siza himself would reject categorization, his architecture, as an extension of Modernist principles and aesthetic sensibility, is also an architecture of various respects: respect for the traditions of his native Portugal, a country of time worn materials and shapes; respect for context, whether it is an older building or neighborhood such as the Chiada Quarter in Lisbon, or the rocky edge of the ocean in his swimming club in Porto; and finally, respect for the times in which today’s architect practices with all its constraints and challenges.
Siza’s characteristic attention to spatial relationships and appropriateness of form are as germane to a single family residence as they are to a much larger social housing complex or office building. The essence and quality of his work is not effected by scale.
Four decades of patient and innovative form-making by Siza have provided unique and credible architectural statements, while at the same time surprising the profession with its freshness.
Siza is a teacher, not only at the university where he obtained his education, but also as a guest lecturer throughout the world, fanning the intense interest his designs generate, particularly in the younger generation.
Siza maintains that architects invent nothing, rather they transform in response to the problems they encounter. His enrichment of the world’s architectural vocabulary and inventory, over the past four decades, provides ample justification to present him with the 1992 Pritzker Architecture Prize, as well as the good wishes of the jury that he continue his transformations.