Porto: good architecture and a river

The Douro has been a perfect viewpoint to admire the most traditional architecture of Porto for years. On one side, there is a Vila Nova de Gaia, an independent city, which is just a stone’s throw through the impressive Dom Luís I Bridge. From this site, you can enjoy a spectacular view of Porto with its famous wine cellars in front of you and possibly one the city’s most well-known neighbourhoods: the Ribeira.

General overview of the architecture in Porto
Porto has become a hub for new architects and studios in Portugal

The city, the second largest one of our neighbouring country, Portugal, is full of charm. It is located by the Atlantic Ocean, it is hospitable, enchanting and somewhat decadent and, this is where its charm largely stems from; its distinctive bohemian character has turned Porto into a mecca for numerous local and international artists and designers making it one of the coolest European destinations.

If you thought that Porto is just about fado and buildings made of marvellous, colourful tiles, you were much mistaken; the Portuguese city has become a hub for avant garde talents in design and architecture. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the city is where the famous Porto School, from which originated architects such as Fernando Távora, Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, was born. The last two mentioned were honoured with the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1992 and 2011; do you need any further reasons to visit Porto and fall in love with its architecture?

Casa da Música (Rem Koolhas)

Probably an icon of contemporary architecture and of the city, this enormous irregular block is an important cultural centre and a concert hall in Porto. What is striking about Casa da Música is precisely its aesthetics: it is geometric and massive as if it was an industrial building. Its polyhedral façade, changing as you move around, is sprinkled with huge glass walls, which allows the building and its tenants to dialogue with the outside (and vice versa).

Modern architecture in Porto (Portugal)
The mind-bending structure of Casa Da Música, by Rem Koolhas

This undeniably fascinating and quirky building, was awarded the RIBA European Award in 2007 and is the work of one of the leading contemporary architects: Rem Koolhas of OMA.

Porto Leixões Cruise Terminal (Luís Pedro Silva)

“A great spiral that embraces the Atlantic Ocean” this might be the most accurate way to define this building designed by Luís Pedro Silva. Besides its dazzling surroundings, what captures the visitors’ attention is the characteristic white façade made of thousands of hexagonal tiles.

An example of modern architecture in Porto
Photo Credit | ArchDaily

Leixões might not be the largest or the busiest cruise terminal in the world, but it certainly is one of the most astonishing. It does not come as a surprise that this small building was chosen by ArchDaily as the world’s best building in public architecture in 2017.

Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art (Álvaro Siza)

A visit to a museum of contemporary art means encountering an extraordinary building, and Fundación Serralves is not an exception to this rule: an enormous building made of granite and stucco as a perfect counterpoint to an art déco villa.

Siza signs this building in Porto
Photo Credit | Port Magazine

This luminous building is truly an architecture gem; it contains 14 exhibition rooms and cleverly takes advantages of the surrounding uneven terrain. A magnificent central lobby offers access to contemporary art at its finest and is definitely known to be a centre of pilgrimage for architecture enthusiasts.

Matadouro (Kengo Kuma + OODA)

It is almost a European tradition to convert old slaughterhouses and industrial sites into cultural and leisure complexes. We have already seen it in Madrid, in Hamburg and even in Lisbon. With Matadouro, Porto follows this trend.

A new architectural project in northern Porto
Photo Credit | Design Boom

Designed by the Portuguese OODA and a Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, Matadouro an old slaughterhouse will be refurbished and converted it into a major cultural center of Porto. It will include a library, scenic and exhibition spaces, sports facilities and offices, which will all be under a huge canopy of ceramic pieces and glass protecting open spaces and uniting the different units of the complex.

The Interpretation Centre of the Romanesque (Spaceworkers)

This interpretation center was created with the aim to discuss and celebrate the rich Romanesque heritage of northern Portugal. With this goal in mind, Spaceworkers designed an architectural complex of 7 different volumes, each representing particular characteristics of Romanesque architecture.

Modern architecture in Porto (Portugal)
Photo Credit | AfAsia Archzine

With its arches, small side chapels and large vaults, this austere and massive building is one of our favorites in the area!

Undoubtedly, Porto is a city which amazes its visitors: medium-sized and unpretentious, but with an enormous creative potential. Therefore, we at the Technical School, have wanted the third stage of our training cycle ConnectA to take place in our neighbouring country. After Berlin and Copenhagen, the next destination for our architecture students is Porto!

And, provided that we have enough time, we will have a glass of wine at the Sandeman winery, always on the banks of the Douro enjoying the beauty of the city in front of us.


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