Porto is rich in amazing architecture, and a tour of the city through the lens of its architectural chefs d’oeuvres will not disappoint you. Designed by architects, for architects, our tours will give you a unique behind-the-scenes look at the leading examples of contemporary Portuguese architecture – from the not-to-be-missed works of the Escola do Porto (Porto’s School of Architecture), to the diversity of the city’s architectural styles and the variety of a sensitive urban redevelopment. A truly exciting creative scene is waiting for you!
Your guide and architect will lead you on a walk through the historical center of Porto. Here, you will be able to see how the traditional and the contemporary engage in a creative dialogue in this city, with stops including: the restoration of the Praça dos Aliados; the São Bento subway station by Siza Vieira and Souto de Moura; Fernando Távora’s tourism center “A Casa dos 24”; the Guindais funicular by Adalberto Dias; and the renovation of the riverside public space by Manuel Fernandes Sá.
On the other side of the river, among the Port wine warehouses of Gaia, you will be invited to sample the flavors of this unique beverage. Afterwards, we will still have time to see an example of work by the new generation of architects at Cristina Guedes and Francisco Vieira de Campos’s bar/ terrace overlooking the river, Ar do Rio (Air of the River). Afterwards you will take a private visit to Rem Koolhaas’ Casa da Música, the best-known architectural icon of the city. You will reach Música by subway, an opportunity to visit the stations designed by Souto de Moura, a project that has radically changed the relationship between the city and its suburbs.
This morning is dedicated to one of the country’s most dynamic and respected cultural institutions: the Serralves Foundation. The Museu de Serralves, by Siza Vieira, resplendent in a French-style landscape that also includes an Art Deco house is probably Portugal’s leading contemporary art museum, holding retrospectives of all the major Portuguese artists, as well as international names. Other interesting projects that you will get to see are the Burgo tower by Souto de Moura, and the Vodafone building by António Barbosa and Pedro Guimarães, a bold, futuristic white concrete building with a diamond shaped façade, cut by huge windows, which has won the 2010 ArchDaily Bulding of the Year in the institutional category.
In the afternoon, we take the road that runs alongside the river in the direction of the sea, visiting the Parque da Cidade and the Frente Marítima of Sidónio Pardal and Sola Morales. We continue towards Matosinhos along Souto de Moura’s seafront as far as Leça, where we find Siza Vieira’s 1966 Leça Swimming Pool, an outstanding work perfectly in harmony with its surrounding landscape and classified as a national monument.
Our next stop is Casa da Arquitectura (House of Architecture), a mid 19th century townhouse that belonged to the family of Siza Vieira and was remodeled in 1961 by the architect. The building was acquired by the Matosinhos town hall in 2007, to house the Documentation Centre Álvaro Siza, and now accommodates a cultural non-profit organization devoted to the promotion of architecture.
Finally, we arrive at Boa Nova Tea House (1958-63), built on the rocks above the sea and one of the most beautiful early works of a very young Siza Vieira. Here, the sunset over the sea takes on a whole new dimension.
Our third day takes us to Viana do Castelo, one of Portugal’s oldest towns and, today, an architectural Mecca thanks to Siza Vieira’s white concrete Biblioteca and the notable building in the Praça da Liberdade, a project by architect Fernando Távora and his son – all this, with the majestic Atlantic Ocean as backdrop.
Aligned with a building by Fernando Távora is a recent project by Eduardo Souto de Moura, the Centro Cultural de Viana do Castelo (2013), a rectangular volume where an aluminum box encloses the program’s multiple activities (inside, a large pavilion was designed to house cultural and sports events). It is inspired by naval architecture, in particular by the ship Gil Eanes, and filled with transparency, in constant contact with the sea.
After taking a short trip through the historical center of Viana, we make our way to Braga to see the Estádio de Futebol (2004) by Souto de Moura – a football stadium carved out of a granite hillside. Our last stop of the day is at Marco de Canaveses where, in 1997, Siza Vieira began to work on one of his most notable projects, the Santa Maria Church. Standing at the center of a bold parish complex, this is an extraordinary example of contemporary ecclesiastical architecture, thanks to its pure, beautiful geometry.
This morning is dedicated to the campus at the University of Aveiro. Construction began in the 1980s as part of an urban plan proposed by architect Nuno Portas and the site provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to view a range of projects by top Portuguese architects, in a one-of-a-kind architectural cluster. Highlights include Siza Vieira’s Library and Water Tank; the Ceramics and Glass Engineering Department of Alcino Soutinho; Adalberto Dias’s Students’ Residence; Souto de Moura’s Geosciences Department; the Chancellor’s Building by Gonçalo Byrne and Manuel Aires Mateus; João Luís Carrilho de Graça’s Footbridge over São Pedro Creek; and the Canteen by Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus.
If you wish to tailor this tour, you might be interested in knowing all the experiences and travel ideas we have tought of for you: please have a look and let us know if you have any different ideas in mind!