CCA announces online access to Álvaro Siza archive

In 2014, Álvaro Siza donated his extensive archive of built and unbuilt projects since 1958 to three institutions, – the Serralves Foundation in Oporto, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon and the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal. Through this exceptional case of international institutional collaboration, the three institutions have committed to the establishment of a joint methodology of archival process and description that will allow collective access to Siza’s significant body of work.

Álvaro Siza, CCA
Álvaro Siza in 2012. Photo by Manuel de Sousa via Wikimedia Commons.

With the donation of his archive, Álvaro Siza expressed his “desire that so many years of work can become useful in many ways, as a contribution to research and debate on architecture, particularly in Portugal and with a perspective opposed to isolation.” As a result he communicated his decision to “donate to two Portuguese institutions that already have the experience, quality and capacity to develop or enlarge their respective archives with the goal of increasing access, dissemination and active participation in a debate that is no longer simply national nor centred on an individual,” and to “donate to the CCA in Montreal, an institution of unequalled experience and prestige and with a sustained series of activities – exhibitions, publications, research, relations with other related institutions and large visibility. As the CCA is recognized for its experience in the preservation and presentation of international archives, it will care for a large part of my archive and make it accessible alongside the work of other modern and contemporary architects.”

Álvaro Siza, CCA, archive
Siza’s Bonjour Tristesse in Berlin. Photo by Georg Slickers.

The complete archive shared by the three institutions represents his life-long interest and study of houses, housing, and city planning, as well as designs for cultural centres, museums, and universities throughout Europe, Asia, and South America. It currently includes textual documents, correspondence, photographs and slides, around 60.000 drawings, 500 models, 282 sketchbooks, and the archive of born digital material. The parts of the archive held by both the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Serralves Foundation are focused on Siza’s projects in Portugal and date from 1958 until 2006. The parts held by the CCA comprise projects of international resonance dating from 1958 until today. All projects from 2006 and moving forward will be part of the archive holdings at the CCA.

As of February 2018, the archival descriptions will begin to become available online in the search engines of the CCA, the Serralves Foundation and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, including early projects from the 1950s and 1960s, as well as projects for the IBA competition of Berlin and urban renewal projects in The Hague from the 1980s. The projects include Bonjour Tristesse, Punt en Komma, the Boa Nova Tea House and Restaurant, the

Álvaro Siza, CCA, archive
Swimming Pool at Leça de Palmeira. Photo by Christian Gänshirt

, the Borges & Irmão Bank, the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto (FAUP), the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, the António Carlos Siza house, the renovation of the Caretaker’s house – Vieira de Castro house.

Over the coming years, further Álvaro Siza archival material will be made accessible for research.