SOLID WALL / EPHEMERAL WALL Exhibition concept by Eduardo Souto de Moura

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Sketch by Eduardo Souto de Moura for Pibamarmi pavilion at 2014 Marmomacc


«I’ve studied in an environment full of walls. [They] have a meaning in topography because when you build something you have to build platforms. […] I focus on topography every single time. It’s natural stone. […] In architecture stone gives an image of powerful pictorial expression, and I like that very much. Regardless of its function, a wall is like a painting. Irregular stones are balanced by smaller ones. One by one: one stable stone, and then two, three, they make a stable wall; and that’s marvellous».

This statement by Eduardo Souto de Moura stresses the importance of walls, and in particular of stone walls, theme well appreciated by the Portuguese architect for its figural power and its constructive significance. He dealt with this issue several times in his architectures, as in the Municipal Market in Braga (1980) or in the Casa das Artes in Oporto (1981); and nowadays Souto de Moura keeps elaborating the wall archetype, for instance in the recent project for Pibamarmi exhibit pavilion, planned for the next edition of Marmomacc fair in Verona.

The exhibition space will consist in stone walls giving access to hidden rooms, indicated by hut-shaped wooden structures covered in fabric.

According to the architect, the contrast between the stereotomic walls on the facades and the tectonic rooms behind them, aims to activate a reflection on the solid wall/ephemeral wall duality, linking to the theory and projects of Aldo Rossi and Robert Venturi. Walls can indeed convey values of width, continuity, and radication (Rossi), but they can transmit as well completely opposite ideas of thinness, fragmentation, and duplicity (Venturi).


Eduardo Souto de Moura

Souto de Moura is a Portuguese architect who started his own studio in 1980 after collaborating with Alvaro Siza. Between his numerous architectural works we can mention the Casa das Artes in Oporto (1981-91), the Casa in Moledo (1991-98), the Casa del Cinema Manoel de Oliveira in Viana de Lima (1998-2003), the Municipal Stadium in Braga (2000-03), two Villas in Ponte de Lima (2001-02), and the Offices Building in Avenida Boavista, Oporto (2003-08).

Since 1981 Souto De Moura has been mixing activities in both projecting and teaching: he is professor at the Architecture Faculty of Oporto University; and visiting professor in prestigious educational institutions in Paris, Dublin, Harvard, Zurich, and Lausanne. 

He was awarded with important International prizes as the Heinrich Tessenow Gold Medal in 2001 and the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2011.


by Davide Turrini

[1] Eduardo Souto de Moura cit. in Francesc Zamora Mola, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Modena, Logos, 2009, p. 393.