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Fernando TAVORA

"Architecture is made by man for man"


Extracts from a text by Michel Toussaint
Project List
Blau Monograph Series - "Fernando Tavora"


Fernando Távora's architecture springs from his questioning of modernity insofar as, after a fleeting radical phase at the start of his career - during which he concentrated on the architectural and urban models favoured by the Modern Movement (perhaps the need to "move forward", as he wrote), gradually becoming aware of the doubts that these options were raising in post-war Europe (one need look no further than his participation at the last CIAMs) - he sought to integrate local and traditional values, values that were more popular than erudite, as is the case with the Vila de Feira Market or the House at Ofir.

Today this lesson is still more than evident in his works, as his recent work on two convents in Minho (Guimarães and Refóios do Lima) goes to show, in the variety of the state of repair of each building and the work to be carried out on them, as well as in the dignity of the "clean shirt" concept; in other words, doing one's best, yet conscious of the fact that Architecture is not "something different, special, sublime and unwordly", but rather "work made by man for man".

Távora's pedagogical contribution to the school where he was trained should not be overlooked, either: he helped create a sense of unity and identity. The classes he gave were based on informal conversation, a far cry from the usual academic teaching, and thus helped to continue the "literary discussion" atmosphere for which the School of Oporto is known, yet never straying from the central theme: Architecture.


Fernando Luís Cardoso Meneses de Tavares e Távora was born in Oporto on August 25th1923, the son of José Ferrão de Tavares e Távora and Maria José Lobo de Sousa Machado Cardoso Meneses. He graduated in Architecture from the Oporto School of Fine Arts in 1952. Having sat the examination in Fine Composition for Professor of Architecture, he was later invited to become a Professor at the school.

He is President of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Oporto and is currently University Professor at the same faculty and Professor of the Department of Architecture at the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Coimbra, by which he has been made a Doctor Honoris Causa.

Granted a scholarship by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Institute for Culture in the United States and Japan in 1960. He has attended the CIAM summer course at the Venice Faculty of Architecture and has been assistant director at the UIA/Oporto Summer School. He has participated in a number of conferences, including the 1st International Conference of Artists - UNESCO, Venice and the CIAM International Congresses on Modern Architecture in Hoddesdon, Aix-en-Provence, Dubrovnik and Otterlo. He took part in the Survey on Portuguese Architecture and is the author of several essays, namely "O Problema da Casa Portuguesa" (Lisbon, 1947) and "Da Organização do Espaç" (Oporto, 1962 and 1982).

Besides his academic career, he has worked as an architect for Oporto Town Council, Consultant to Gaia Town Council, Consultant in the Commissariat on the Urban Renovation of the Ribeira/Barredo project, Consultant in the Technical Bureau of the Northern Planning Commission, and Consultant in the Local Technical Bureau of Guimarães Town Council.

His work has been exhibited at exhibitions around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution, Washington; "Magnas" at the Oporto School of Fine Arts; "Artes Plásticas I and II" at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon; "Eleven Architects from Oporto", Lisbon; "Architectures à Porto", Clemont Ferrand; the Soares dos Reis National Museum, Oporto; Europália 1991, Brussels; the Milan Triennial and the Venice Biennial.

He has been awarded the First Prize for Architecture by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Europa Nostra Award (for the House on Rua Nova, Guimarães), the 1985 Tourism and Heritage Award and the 1987 National Award for Architecture (for the Santa Marinha Pousada, Guimarães). He has been awarded the Golden Medal of the city of Oporto and the "Comenda da Ordem Militar de Santiago da Espada".

Fernando Távora belongs to the Association of Portuguese Architects and the International Union of Architects. He is also on the Advisory Committee for training in the field of Architecture (European Economic Community) and a correspondent of the National Academy of Fine Arts.

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