Álvaro Siza designs fire station
Last year's Venice Biennale Golden Lion winner designs first fire station - at the grand age of 80
Now in his 80th year, the much-lauded Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza is still going strong. Fresh from picking up a Golden Lion at last year's Venice Biennale, he's now completed a fire station and barracks in the small town of Santo Tirso near Porto - so not a million miles from the architect's birthplace.
Siza is a strange creature in the world of contemporary architecture, as he seems to eschew publicity, or publicity for publicity's sake. And yet his consistently high quality design makes him a real architect's architect.
As our book Álvaro Siza Complete Works points out: "He is considered Portugal's greatest living architect and his buildings are known for their austere beauty and their imaginative relationship to their surroundings. His work is recognised for its beauty, simplicity and gravity. His projects are also known for the way they sensitively intrude into a site, lending the the serenity of structures much older."
The new fire station is classic Siza - minimalist, austere, unassuming, functional and yet not without a clean aestheticism. This is a building which will have to work hard. Inside the low-rise rectangular volumes the colour scheme is gleaming white and cool grey. There's a lobby, offices, boardroom and sleeping quarters with bunk beds, along with the gridded garage and nearby training tower. That's the fun bit, with its spiral staircase and circular platforms. The whole site is surrounded by some generous landscaping, within which the parade ground is located.
Portugal's most famous architect has used warm brown brick and concrete, juxtaposing the two with the garage in concrete and the office and living quarters in brick. It just shows that there's a first time for everything, even for octagenarians. This is Siza's maiden fire station. If you like what you see, take a look at Complete Works in the store.