Bringing architecture to life

Photo: Porto Academy

Source: aicep Portugal global

Porto Academy is an independent project curated by Amélia Brandão Costa and Rodrigo da Costa Lima that started in 2013 and it is the result of their enormous passion for architecture as a subject.

Few know that Porto is the hometown of two Pritzker prize winners – Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto Moura, but also, Porto is one the few cities in the world where one can identify with a school of architecture – Porto Academy, making Porto a mandatory city to travel to if you are interested in this discipline.

In the heart of the city, and on a yearly basis, the Porto Academy hosts students from around the globe.

Porto Academy is an independent project curated by Amélia Brandão Costa and Rodrigo da Costa Lima that started in 2013 and it is the result of their enormous passion for architecture as a subject.

Amélia and Rodrigo studied architecture in Porto. Amélia continued her academic journey by continuing her studies in architecture in Stuttgart, Design in Milano and has a post graduate in Real Estate Management. Amélia is also a member of the Portuguese Architects Association Board since 2020.

Before establishing their own office in 2007, both Amélia and Rodrigo learned from Isabel Furtado and João Pedro Serôdio in Porto, and from Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron in Basel, Switzerland.

Their works and writings have been awarded, published, and presented in lectures and exhibitions. They are founders and editors of Indexnewspaper – which makes part of MOMA NY Library Collection – which has been awarded and exhibited worldwide. They published several articles and edited many monographs. Amélia was also a correspondent for the Swiss architecture magazine Faces.

Both have been guest critics, lecturers and juries at different architecture schools such as AHO, Akademie der Bildenden Künst München, École Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne, ETH Zürich, FAUP, KU Leuven, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Miami School of Architecture, Princeton University School of Architecture, Royal College of Art and Yale School of Architecture.

Amélia and Rodrigo are the Founding Directors of Porto Academy.

They describe the initiative as a manifesto of pluralism and opportunity based on close tuition from a diverse range of architects, artists and curators. It is an alternative educational experience, unburdened by established rules or dogmas, where students learn first hand from the singular visions of practice exemplified by invited tutors.

“We admire the figures that dream about architecture, who build, study and promote it. “We believe that practice – as an exercise of the architect’s profession – is central to the future of the discipline. Porto Academy was founded to push forward this vision and the architects with whom it is shared.

“What interests us most is one’s specific and personal approach to architecture. “When we started Porto Academy in 2013 we aimed to provide students with the opportunity of meeting a variety of approaches with professionals who are also deeply involved in education within the field of architecture, but in an informal setting, outside the university.”

Porto Academy promotes an exhaustive programme lived with an enormous intensity. It is an experience that involves lectures, visits to important architectural sites, classes, exhibitions and the creation of publications. While experiencing living in a new city, students get to know people from very heterogeneous backgrounds with whom one will almost certainly generate productive discussions and build new friendships.

Porto Academy has created a truly global community of students and practitioners over the past years. Around 1,700 participants from 87 different nationalities have participated in the Porto Academy programmes. Invited lecturers and guests have come from a wide range of origins and fields of architecture with more than 150 invited guests from 26 different nationalities.

Porto Academy is co-organised with the School of Architecture of Porto which hosts the event. Other relevant partners are Indexnewspaper, Ivo Tavares Studio, the Municipality of Porto and Panoramah.

The academy proposes a brief, but powerful, cultural and educational experience in dialogue with ambitious and globally relevant architects during which time, one lives with a passion for the discipline and an intellectual freedom of enduring value.

“Porto Academy aims to dilute borders and bring people together to the essence of what architecture is. More than ever, it is a time to meet, to physically experience space and to establish social and fruitful connections.”

As it currently stands Porto Academy are expected to receive distinguished guests coming from all corners of Europe for their program this year: André Tavares (Portugal), Buchner Bründler (Switzerland), Didier Fiúza Faustino (France), Flores & Prats (Spain), Jan Kinsbergen (Switzerland), Kosmos (Russia), LCLA Office (Norway), Leopold Banchini (Switzerland), Mary Duggan (England), Norell/Rodhe (Sweden), Nuno Melo Sousa (Portugal). More guests are still to confirm for this year’s edition.2

When I asked the pair what impact Covid will have on their Porto Academy Summer School 2021 they explained it will be different from previous years, but they expect to keep the same physical and human experience of the past editions. They will maintain a Covid-free community as everyone will have to present a negative test to participate in the programme and they have support from a private laboratory to ensure everyone’s safety.

“We have always conducted most of lectures/workshops and classes in the outdoors, architecture is simply not just for the classroom! The only difference this year is this outdoor setting will have to be mandatory, fingers crossed the weather holds up. “

If you are someone interested in Architecture, it is mandatory to visit Porto for the architecture of the city and for the work of the most recognisable architects in the world. You can visit the Serralves Museum, the School of Architecture and the Carlos Ramos Pavillion by Siza, or Casa da Música by Rem Koolhas, to name a few.

“Porto has a very good scale for a city to live in and it is very easy to travel within. You can experience the river and seaside together with a very good wine. Besides the Porto Wine, there are many good wines of the region to taste. Architecture and wine, it is a great combination!”

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