Located on west side of the city, a short bus ride from the busy central Porto, there lies a serene space. Offering an interesting collection of contemporary art, Serralves museum reminded me of the importance of architecture in our daily lives.
Porto’s Museum of Comtemporart art is founded by The Serralves Foundation. It is one of the main Portuguese cultural institutions. Their mission is to “stimulate public awareness and knowledge of audiences from diverse backgrounds and ages in relation to Contemporary Art, architecture, the landscape and critical issues facing society and its future, in an integrated manner, based on the Foundation’s exceptional heritage assets that include the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Villa and the Park.” [source]
The building is designed by the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza and made of concreteand steel. The building provides a very calm environment through simple geometric shapes and long parallel lines often with sudden protruding elements. On a sunny day with the contrast of shadows and against the blue sky, the building comes to life as a part of nature connected to landscape around it.
Inside the garden lives another building known as the “Serralves Villa” or as I like to call it simply the “Pink House!”. Serralves Villa is the foundation’s head office and often transformed to an extension of the museum used for temporary exhibitions.
The building is a remarkable example of Art Deco architecture, built in the 1930s, and attributed to the work of French architect, Charles Siclis. Art Deco, also called style moderne, is a movement in the decorative arts and architecture originating in the 1920s reaching maturity and popularity in western Europe and the United States during the 1930s. One of the distinguishing features of the style more appealing to me is the use of simple, clean shapes creating a streamlined look.
Architecture is one of most important aspects of city building. The important of it goes beyond providing a mean of protection from natural discomfort, manmade forms of pollution and a refuge from environments that seems to be falling apart in one way or another.
Architecture is a powerful way of maintaining the collective sanity of communities in this ever-complicating world. Through colour and form we can create a sense of peace and serenity around us even in the direst situations. The time you spent at home shouldn’t be just about physical recovery but also mental and emotional. Of all the architecture I’ve seen I’ve come to believe the simplicity of design and bright happy colours can achieve those means at a minimum cost. There’s no need for complicated structures or premium materials.
In my recent trip to Porto I was yet again reminded of this idea after visiting the Serralves museum. Sadly we live in a world that is based on the foundation of greed at the highest levels and ideals such as equality and a happy society are not even in the agenda of governments around the world. It is still nice though to be able visit such places that shows the important of architecture and showcasing what was and is possible.