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Architects on Netflix, Divorce issues & Italian ice cream in Olhão

Architect Alvaro Siza

Both Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura have won the ambitious Pritzker Prize. They are therefore among the Portuguese architects featured in the “Conversations with Architects”, a series on Netflix.

Alvaro Siza, trained in the 1950s and known as a minimalist and expressionist, talks about his architectural training in Porto, where Carlos Ramos was director at his time. He also talks about the influences that architects such as Alvaro Aalto, Gropius and Neutra had on his architectural education. At that time, a new group of teachers, including Távora, just starting to work at the architecture school in Porto. Later, Siza would collaborate with Távora, who was also a member of the international group CIAM.

Architect Eduardo Souto de Moura

Eduardo Souto de Moura is clearly from a younger generation. During his architectural studies in Porto, he was also trained by Távora - but somewhat later. The Carnation Revolution and the "participation building projects" that were devised in the context of SAAL determined another part of his training. Mies van der Rohe and Aldo Rossi were architects who had a major influence on his approach of architecture, which can be recognized in his various works He comes from a conservative family with brothers and sisters who are doctors or judges, and in the early days of his career he mainly designed large villas for family members. This is in line with the view that as a young architect you can walk two ways to make a career. Or you come from an environment with enough wealthy relatives or relations of your father and then the orders will come in automatically. Or you come from an environment where this is not the case, then as a young architect you have to obtain new orders through winning competitions.

Villa designed by Eduardo Souta de Moura in Tavira

Souto de Moura clearly belongs to the first category. This is once again underlined when he says that many of those “villa builders” were married couples where the “moment of construction” often coincided with a crisis in their relationship. An impending divorce soon becomes one of the doomsday scenarios that give many young architects sleepless nights. When a fellow architect from Maastricht once told me that he had a client couple with divorce problems for the third time, I urged him not to make this public. Soon, you 'll be known as the “divorce architect” and you're probably not looking for that. But it doesn't just happen in the architectural world. A Friend of mine and goldsmith André once lost a good customer after he had made an engagement ring for him for the third time and for the third time the lady broke off the engagement after a little while. Fortunately, things turned out well later with his customer.

Bairro de Pescadores in Ohão & Arbeiderswijkje van Carlos Ramos in Olhão uit 1925

At Siza and Souto de Moura, who have a joint office in Porto, there is a mutual bond not only with colleague and teacher Távora, but also with their first teacher Carlos Ramos, who is also called the father of "Modern Portuguese Architecture". In terms of "modern" architectural views, both architects are indebted to Carlos Ramos, who may have come from Porto, but was married to a woman from Olhão (Algarve). Clarisse Ventura was the daughter of the director of the famous canning factory Lucas & Ventura in Olhão. In this way Carlos Ramos - while still a student -got his first construction order in Olhão in 1925. Unfortunately, the group of working-class houses that he designed and also built near the N125 has been demolished in the meantime. However, the characteristic double staircase with arch from another design he made in that time for an othe project can be found in the later realized plans of architect I.T. Fernandes for the "Bairro de Pescadores” along the eastern exit road from Olhão.

Topa building & former Ice cream shop São Gelados Rua 18e Junho

The Topa building on Rua 18e Junho is unfortunately the only remaining building by architect Carlos Ramos that can be admired in Olhão. Until recently, ice cream shop São Gelados was in the building, which is around the corner of the post office and also houses the city archives. Nelson, who runs the business together with his Italian partner, presented his traditionally made ice cream full of deep fruit flavors and in many fresh colors. Just as the taste of the ice cream caresses your tongue, do the stories that Nelson tells you touch your mind. The highlight is the story about his “Creme Florentina" ice cream, which he cherishes like a chilled treasure in his shiny display case.

Creme Florentina was first served around 1500 at the court of the Medici in Florence at the wedding of Catherine de Medici, who was also Queen of France. The secret of the taste of Creme Florentina ice cream is in the special combination with bergamot, lemons and oranges. The inventor of this delicious ice cream is the famous Italian architect Bernardo Buontalenti, that's why this ice cream is called "the architect's ice". Nelson can tell the story with dedication and in colorful detail, making it seem as if it all happened yesterday. The ice cream shop has recently been moved to Rua do Gaibeu - around the corner from Cha Cha Cha - and you can hear now the story there from Nelson or one of his employees while enjoying your Creme Florentina.


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