Távora for the Initiated
Fernando Távora would tell his students that drawing was as natural as breathing. But what was truly natural was the way he taught and his ability to inoculate in his students the ‘virus’ of good architecture. His disciples have tried to explain what it was exactly that made him so special. In the context of ‘Guimaraes 2012 Capital Europeia da Cultura’, the ‘Fernando Távora Modernidade Permanente’ project coordinated by Álvaro Siza brought together various activities devoted to the memory of the architect from Porto, among them an exhibition with lecture series and guided visits, an accompanying catalog, and a facsimile of the diary he wrote during his world travels of 1960.
This journey has been much studied, but we can now look at a copy of the journal – with the sketchbooks full of drawings – in which he recorded the things he saw and the people he met while traveling. It won’t serve as an initiation into Távora’s built work, but it contains the core of his architectural ideology. The book is a treat for those already familiar with his oeuvre.
Similarly the exhibition catalog is not a monograph of his lifework, but a reading of the link between Távora’s work and his teachings. Again with original documents (drawings, photographs, recordings of classes and conferences) and with essays by disciples and scholars, the volume is a testimony where his professional work, his thinking, and his teachings together form a critical, broad, diverse view of the career of the man considered the ‘dean’ of Portuguese architecture.