Siza receives the Royal Gold Medal 26.02.09

words Johanna Agerman

The Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza receives the Royal Gold Medal for architecture from Her Majesty the Queen today. Last night he delivered a lecture to a full auditorium at RIBA.

The subject for the evening was the Iberê Camargo Foundation, a museum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, which opened in May 2008 (icon 062).

"Today I feel young because I'm nervous," started the 76-year old, who admitted he would rather have the bronze medal, as the gold medal always seems to be for old people.

Although his voice was a bit unsteady to start off with, it grew stronger as the description of the project progressed. The audience was treated to a vast array of sketches revealing Siza's process from first idea to finished form. "Sketching is a vice," he said. "It's so easy."

He confessed that the Iberê Camargo Foundation was one of the most enjoyable architectural projects he had ever worked on because of the ease of planning and generous funding. The lecture revealed the very personal link that Siza forms with his projects, one of his key strengths as an architect.

In the Q&A session following the lecture, Siza artfully replied to criticism that the interior of Iberê Camargo Foundation doesn't come across as "finished" as the exterior. "But if the interior is absolutely complete, then there is no room for the exhibitions."

top image Leonardo Finotti

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