Considered as one of the major monuments of Roman architecture, the Thoronet Abbey, founded in 1146 in the heart of the Mediterranean forest, is witness to what was, during the Middle Ages, the retreat of the monks in the desert and was the will of the Cistercian reformers to conform strictly to the monastic life. Through its sobriety and its austerity it is a model for generations of contemporary and modern architects oriented by simplicity alone or accompanied by minimalism: Le Corbusier, Fernand Pouillon, John Pawson...
Invited to present his work on the premises, the proposition of Àlvaro Siza has consisted of a journey, an itinerary, that of the monks of the 12th century. The architect of Porto remains individually one of the most discreet, despite his international status and the many solicitations to which he is subjected. Regardless of the formal beauty of his celebrated works, the enthusiasm that he provokes still derives from the importance given to the little things in the creative process. From the visible part of his intervention: four elements (constructed using three materials: wood, marble, iron), anchorage points of the journey, we see Àlvaro Siza reveal an alternative image of the site. By movement and wandering, he enables the discovery of the relevance and part of an architecture dating from one thousand years ago, universally agreed to be the basis of modernity within architecture.
This book witnesses the journeys of the architect in the interior of the Thoronet and of his work, which he discusses at length. Seven of his works and interventions are also mentioned: the restaurant Boa Nova on the archaeological site of Cusa in Sicily, the monument at Antonio Nobre in Matosinhos, the swimming pool of Leça de Palmeira, the district of Malaguiera at Evora, the Galacian Centre of contemporary art in Saint-Jaques-de-Compostelle, the church of Marco de Canaveses, the house Vieira de Castro in Famalicao. Those familiar with architecture and the beliefs of Àlvaro Siza, tell of the manifestation of the journey in its different moments and places and how they found themselves caught in its wake.
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Under the direction of Dominique Machabert, texts of Àlvaro Siza, Dominique Machabert, Carlos Machado, Carlos Seoane, Laurent Beaudouin, Marc Barani, Roberto Collovà, Nuno Higino, Eduardo Souto de Moura.
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