Faculty of Architecture
Via Panorámica

Alvaro Siza 1995

The buildings of the Porto architecture school are set on a terraced site high above the estuary of the Douro River. This area is bordered on three sides by highway exits and by Campo Alegre street, and on the east by the former estate of Quinta da Povoa - the site of the architecture school before its expansion, which houses an earlier project by Siza - the first-year Carlos Ramos Pavilion. 

Adjacent to the rusticated stone wall of the estate, the new faculty buildings stretch out along two vertices of a triangular site, enclosing between them a courtyard and central meeting space.

The main building on the northern side, a continuous volume which provides visual and acoustic protection from the road above, contains departmental offices, lecture halls, an auditorium and a library. Across the courtyard on the southern side are four individual studio towers, which are placed several meters apart to allow views to the river, their different heights and facade configurations conforming to variations in the program. These are connected to the main building by a series of corridors below the plaza.

The volumes of the main building and towers converge westward, where a cafe pavilion and outdoor terrace mark the entrance to the site. At the opposite end, the courtyard leads to an elevated grass platform, which in turn climbs up by a series of ramps and stairs to the former estate and garden, giving access through a narrow gate to the Carlos Ramos Pavilion. Set at the apex of the estate, this simple two-story structure is a succinct summary of the courtyard plan - a U-shaped classroom building with its two wings converging at a sharp angle. While its exterior facades are blind, the large pivoting windows facing the interior courtyard allow complete transparency between the classrooms on either side of the building, and views beyond to the garden and river.

The materials used in the interior of the more recent addition include exotic wood for the floors and wainscots, marble in the foyers and stairs, specially-designed furniture for the classrooms, auditorium and library, and skylights which draw natural light into the main spaces.


Tatiana Berger 2003 (updated 2010)


How to visit

The School of Architecture is located on the Via Panoramica road, just south of Rua do Campo Alegre in Porto. This is not far from the Ponte da Arrabida bridge, between the old city center and the ocean. From here, it is just under 2km to both the Office of Alvaro Siza and the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art.

If driving from the river, go up Rua de D.Pedro V, turn left on Rua do Campo Alegre, and look for a sign pointing to 'Teatro Campo Alegre'. Turn left on this road, which will descend towards the river, pass under a bridge and turn left into the campus. Buses 35, 36, 37 and 78 travel along Rua do Campo Alegre. A site showing detailed bus routes and schedules is at www.stcp.pt

An excellent interactive map of the city, where it is possible to search by street name is at www.cm-porto.pt/. Click on 'Mapa da Cidade do Porto' usually in the right-hand column of the page.  

It is usually possible to visit the Faculty of Architecture and the Carlos Ramos Pavilion when the university is in session. If you are coming on the weekend or during the summer, when some of the facilities may be closed, call to arrange a time: +351-22-605-7100 / +351-22-600-2968 or fax +351-22-605-7199.

Books and other web sites

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Alvaro Siza
Kenneth Frampton

A comprehensive volume that includes photos and drawings of all projects to date, an illuminating introduction, and several texts by the architect.

Alvaro Siza
Peter Testa

A well-written, concise survey in a convenient format.

Other recommended web sites concerning Alvaro Siza are:

www.pritzkerprize.com, the site of the Pritzker Prize ceremony from 1992, which includes a good biography and photos.

www.cidadevirtual.pt/blau/siza.html, with several illustrated articles, a biography and project list, although outdated.

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