Monthly Archives: September 2009

In praise of Lisbon…

As I am about to leave to Harvard GSD, the London AA, and the Rotterdam Biennale for Beyond’s first mini mini world-tour, I must leave here a compliment to my own city… (My newborn baby is already making me homesick!)

Last week in Lisbon was one of those fantastic moments in which an event, namely ExperimentaDesign, really catered for an international audience and created a special atmosphere and buzz in the city…

Still being quite periphereal to the main centres of knowledge production, Lisbon certainly needs that buzz… Tourists may be roaming about the city at all times but one needs more food for thought than that.

TerreiroPaçoFinal

My modest contribution for Lisbon’s debate on Terreiro do Paço…Via Público.

In the midst of hard work I just had to make time for EXD09′s opening week.     And instead of being behind the scenes, it was now an immense pleasure not only to be ocasionally in the scene – at the Open Talks, with Nuno Artur Silva and Filipe Homem Fonseca – but specially to enjoy the very tight schedule of presentations and openings as a privileged spectator…

I must say it is quite good to stop being a cultural producer for a while and just enjoy what others put up with much hard effort… So, thank you guys ;-) both for the invitation and the 4 days of endless activity…

And this is not only about the great quality of the exhibitons and conferences. When you put together the fantastic weather with a good crowd – including top designers and the best design journalists from around the world – you get the sense of how pleasurable a socializing and networking event should be.

Good thing one can exchange ideas with the likes of Alejandro Aravena, Peter Saville, Oron Catts, Michael Horsham or Joseph Grima. Or to see already old time friends like Emily CampbellHans Maier-Achen, Max Bruinsma, or James Auger and Jimmy Loiseau

Picture 1

In moments like this not only does one introduce the secrets of the city to new friends (like it was the case of Justin McGuirk from Icon), but one can also enjoy the rare opportunity of seeing his or her place through the eyes of others, thus being able to rediscover the pleasure of a chosen city…

Guess what I’m doing… #04

Picture 4My last post unveiled a little something about the project that is keeping me from updating this blog. Now, here is the first public announcement of a book that is actually making me feel quite proud.

Nada‘s graphic design of the HP 06/08 book is finishing today and I can now disclose a dummy of how this is going to look like when it comes out of the press in about three weeks.

HP0608_hardcover_thick

Why is this book leaving me proud? Because in its massive 384 pages (co-incidentally, the same number of built works submitted to the Mapei/Ordem dos Arquitectos “national selection,” from which 80 buildings of recent Portuguese architecture are here showcased) it also bears what I deem to be the first moment in a long time in which 8 critical essays offer a provocative balance of  what architects have been up to – or not – in Portugal.

The last time this sort of amount of critical perspectives on Portuguese architecture was put together was back in 2001, in Arquitectura Portuguesa Contemporânea 1991-2001. But at the time, I was amazed at how that volume was totally schizophrenic: the images were all about Portuguese architecture feeling good about itself, while the texts announced the doomsday of precisely the same reality.

Almost a decade after, what is the new balance?

You will have to wait for the book -to be published the 3rd of October on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name- but I may already advance that the critical views included here particularly address architecture’s presence in Portuguese society. And buildings and interventions of every kind are also shown as part of an unexpected diversity, specially when it regards to what we are used to talk about when we are talking about Portuguese architecture.

Although diversity is no longer unanimous and “identifiable”, it bears witness to a much more exhilarating scenario – one in which conservatism under the wing of the so-called “Portoguese school” is being left behind to open up this national production to a new, conceptually grounded, creolisation of architecture.