Reconquest | Antonio S. Rio Vázquez

In 1951, being still a student, Fernando Távora is present at the VIII Internacional of modern Architecture Congress in Hoddesdonin (England), where Le Corbusier and Gropius coincides. The title of the congress, «The heart of the city», advances the overcoming of the Letter of Atenas and the interest for the problems of the local context, a search of the local identity that will crystallize in the following meetings of the hand of the youngest generations.

Fernando Távora, House on the sea, 1952. (DPA MAgazine 14, 1998)

These worries were latent in also young woman Távora years before, gathered in a test published in November, 1947 and titled eloquently The problem of the Portuguese house [i]. As reaction to the enormous constructive activity that was taking place in his country it proposes «to re-do everything, beginning for the beginning». Opposite to the bases of the modern international architecture, it defends an architecture of local and independent, faithful character to the regional character. A character that must be looked both in the Portuguese popular architecture and in the possibilities that the construction of the moment allows:

The today men are equal neither to those of yesterday, nor the means which they are served to displace or to be lived, since different they are also his social, political or economic ideas. Being so strong the degree of these variations, why do not others have to be different, great, the solutions that it is necessary to find today for the Portuguese? Why to pledge in remaining, when everything invites a different way?[ii]

One year after Hoddesdon’s congress decides to put into practice his ideas in the project for the obtaining of the architect’s title [iii], called «A house on the sea». The housing would be located on the coast of Foz do Douro, near the city of Oporto, conquering the limit between the land and the sea[iv].

In the memory that he accompanies on the project, Távora emphasizes the powerful influence that has the proximity of the ocean: from the choice of the materials up to the internal distribution. To the time, it recovers the constructive and spatial tradition of the zone, as the employment of the white and blue blue roller as coating front.

Two opposite fronts: that of entry, firm, majestic in the theory of his props, closed; that of the sea, opened, light, fluctuating, extending in a last effort for a terrace and stopping to see, across his glasses the whole structure and the whole caprice of the interior forms of the house. Re-dressing the fronts the traditional blue roller: we will observe his perfection, the beauty of his color, his sheen (not as at all him it can reflect the west one in Foz), one of the elements of major interest in this construction. It is not difficult to imagine the effect of the ceramic box that will be the house, with his reflections, correct, impeccable, almost metallic, contrasting with the white color and calm of the structural elements and of the rock wherefrom it appears or being allied to the transparency of the glass.[v]

Távora finishes the memory writing: «A structure departing from the rock it sustains the volume where one lives and seems that it wants to deliver it to the sea. This way it might translate in words the own project». Analyzed some years later for Kenneth Frampton it will turn into touchstone of the School of Oporto, for his «topographically half-full rationalism»[vi].

antonio s. río vázquez . architect

a coruña. may 2013

Notes:

[i] TAVORA, F. «O problema da casa portuguesa» en TRIGUEIROS, L., Fernando Távora, Blau, 1993, Lisboa, pp. 11-13

[ii] Íd., p. 12

[iii] «Concurso para a obtençao do diploma de arquitecto», abreviado CODA.

[iv] TAVORA, F., Concurso para a obtençao do diploma de arquitecto. Uma casa sobre o mar., Archivo Facultade de Arquitectura. Universidade do Porto, p. 2

[v] Íd., p. 7

[vi] FRAMPTON, K., «En busca de una línea lacónica. Notas sobre la Escuela de Oporto» en AV 47, Madrid, 1994, p. 26

Antonio S. Río Vázquez

Antonio S. Río Vázquez (A Coruña, 1981) es arquitecto por la E.T.S.A. de A Coruña, master en Urbanismo y doctor por la Universidade da Coruña. Especializado en teoría y diseño, su línea de trabajo se ha centrado en la investigación y divulgación del patrimonio arquitectónico moderno. Ha desarrollado proyectos de modo independiente y ha colaborado con varios estudios de arquitectura. Es socio fundador de Aroe Arquitectura. Es profesor en el Departamento de Proyectos Arquitectónicos, Urbanismo y Composición de la Universidade da Coruña, y ha sido profesor invitado en la Robert Gordon University de Aberdeen (Reino Unido), en la Universidade do Minho (Portugal) y en la Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza (Italia). Es miembro de la red UEDXX Urbanism of European Dictatorships during the XXth Century, del Grupo de Investigación en Historia de la Arquitectura IALA y del Grupo de Innovación Educativa en Historia de la Arquitectura. Ha formado parte del proyecto de investigación FAME Fotografía y Arquitectura Moderna en España, 1925-1965. Los resultados de sus investigaciones, tanto personales como conjuntas, han servido como aportación a eventos de debate y difusión científica y han sido publicados en libros y revistas.

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