When I first entered a house by Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, winner of the 2011 Pritzker Prize, I was not impressed. The sun was setting and a bitingly cold wind had just started, causing me to rush through a small white gate and an over-porportioned door into a rather small hallway. Here, wooden slab floors ran parallel to the horizontal lines that permeated the whole space, and, looking around, I gawked. What had appeared from the outside to be a generic small space was unraveling in front of me— room after room of white, hard, geometric walls that opened to larger and larger spaces. The house finally opened, through glass panes, into a seemingly infinite garden, and as I stepped out to appreciate the horizontal volume, I instantly became smitten with this work.
In Porto, Portugal, where Souto Moura—we usually drop the “de”—has lived, taught and worked for the last thirty years, the architect is quite a celebrity. The northern part of Portugal is where you can find most of his strongest body of work—his houses. With each single family dwelling, Souto Moura has refined a style that is rigorous, grounded and muscular; minimal—the influence of both Mies and Siza are felt—but detailed in the way the volume is inserted into the landscape and the space unfolds within.