“Every great architect deserves a great monograph” seems to be the thinking at Taschen, which has added a new volume to its series of huge catalogs on prestigious architects. Without a doubt, their size (30.8 x 39 cm) makes it a delight for the reader to look at the magnificent photographs that the German publisher has accustomed us to, although more in-depth perusal is difficult with tomes so heavy (5.5 kg) they are hard to handle without a large surface to put them on.
Now comes the turn of Álvaro Siza, to whom, as with others, Taschen had previously devoted a book in its Architecture & Design series. In fact the new monograph is a luxurious revision and updating of the 1999 publication, where Philip Jodidio presented a mainly visual run-through of twenty buildings (see Arquitectura Viva 68) with an introductory text of his own, a chronological complete list of Siza’s works, and a short biography. The scheme is now repeated, expanded of course by the years that have since passed. A brief concluding part is then added that is not commensurate with the number of projects featured.
Nevertheless, while the product is similar to the first, it is definitely an improvement. The splendid photography, this time mostly by Duccio Malagamba and Fernando Guerra, give a clear uniform view of the Portuguese master’s oeuvre, and there are good plans that were lacking in the original. The best, I would say, is what Siza himself provides: a good number of sketches and freehand drawings, the best discourse for explaining his work.