Eduardo Souto De Moura

Souto-de-Moura.jpgEduardo Souto de Moura. Image by Francisco Nogueira

By Jakob Harry Hybel

The work of Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura combines the abstract minimalism of Mies van der Rohe with a tactile sensitivity and the use of local materials and building techniques.

He is one of just two Portuguese recipients of the prestigious Pritzker Prize – the other being Álvaro Siza – yet he has never achieved the same international renown as his much fêted colleague. That might seem unreasonable, but considering the fact that Souto de Moura has built very few buildings outside of his native country and that he does not have the same trademark style as Siza, it’s not all that surprising.

Souto de Moura started small. In the first decades after starting his own practice in 1980, he primarily focused on residential houses and renovations. However, having gained a fair amount of visibility after designing the Portuguese Pavilion for the EXPO 2000 in Hannover (along with his good friend and one-time employer Siza) Souta de Moura’s projects started to vary considerably in both scale and expression.

One of Souto de Moura’s defining – and certainly most well-known – works is the bafflingly muscular football stadium set into a mountain in Braga, Portugal from 2004. Other key projects include a museum in Cascais, Portugal, dedicated to the work of local artist Paula Rego, which is composed of a set of geometric volumes in red concrete, and an office complex in Porto that combines a vertical tower and a low, horizontal building. Most recently, he completed a multi purpose hall extruding from the ground in the small Portuguese seaside town of Viana de Castelo.

So what’s the common denominator of such diverse projects, one might ask? Well, apart from all being bold reinterpretations of local styles of building, Souto de Moura’s buildings distinguish themselves by clearly communicating the way in which they were developed as structures, rather than images or concepts. You sense not just an underlying tactile understanding but also a structural one.

Aside from the Pritzker Prize, which Souto de Moura received in 2011, he was awarded the Wolf Prize in Arts in 2013 and the Pessoa Prize in 1998 among many others. He also has an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Architecture and Arts at the Lusíada University in Porto.