19 03 2021 Fundação Gramaxo

Second book. Photographing a Siza Vieira design.

António Júlio Duarte Lisboa, January 10th, 2020

After the book about the Lisbon Cruise Terminal, I started shooting the construction of the Gramaxo Foundation, in Maia, designed by architect Siza Vieira.

At this given moment, I can only think of this new work project by comparing it with the previous one; it is still too early for a mental autonomy about this second essay. My concern in documenting the building construction, to record its different stages, is still there, but I'm already thinking, at this point, that this one will be very different. This does not have the spectacular features of the previous one: a huge cruise terminal by the Tejo, in a historical part of Lisbon; this is a small building, on a private estate, on the outskirts of Maia.

Siza Vieira's design addresses what already exists in a completely different way, or he implements it in a different way. I am more interested in the private space where it set: the trees, the water tank, the surrounding wall, the old buildings. How the building is growing in dialogue with these pre-existing elements, although I don't think the most relevant part of my work will be about that. I think it will be much more about the outcome, the finished building, its design, the light, its uses, how it will be experienced.

While in the Cruise Terminal book the photos of the construction site ended up weighing in the final selection, I guess that in this one that phase will be less important. The building will stand out more than its construction. In my first essay the intervention was done in a vital part of the city, in my second it is almost shy: the building itself, its size, simplicity, the quiet park, everything contributes to a low profile.

I decided to shoot in black and white. It is the most interesting approach for this architecture design. I think it befits the simplicity of the building, it helps to tone down the excessive green palette of the park, and shows, in a balanced way, the relationship of Siza Vieira's design with the city buildings beyond the foundation walls. The discreet building, in its simple and small features, needs some sunlight to balance the weight and the visual noise outside the Gramaxo Foundation walls. The building is going to be white after all, and my choice allows a better understanding of the relationship between light and building (which I believe is a crucial aspect of Siza's work), and will make the work simpler and, hopefully, more filtered.