Porto School: B Side ∙ An oral story
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
Escola do Porto
 Home | back | Pag.95/100  | Next | Last
Porto School: B Side An oral story (1968-1978)
25 October 2014 to 11 January 2015

Curated by Pedro Bandeira

The “Porto School” has an official history that begins with Carlos Ramos, is then structured by Fernando Tavora, and had its first internationalisation with Álvaro Siza and then with Eduardo Souto de Moura. It is said that the Porto School was born from an encounter between modern architecture and popular architecture (rather than the other way around). The school of the “Inquest”, the “57 Reform”. The school that seemed to rediscover drawing and project in the urgency of the social commitment of architects, as reflected in the SAAL process (Local Ambulatory Support Service). The school of “neo-realism”, of “realist socialism”, of “critical regionalism”. The school that affirmed itself in the apparent absence of discontinuities, in a linear simplified history, that refused to be postmodern because it never became modern. A history that has been told and repeated on countless occasions, in mythmaking synchronism. The school of winners - or at least that’s the predominant narrative. However in the shadow of the “Porto School”, there’s a “B Side”, another side, with stories that haven’t been covered in academic theses and books. They are forgotten stories, secondary stories, some of which are inconsequential, others deleted. Stories that we try to think about with a set of interviews, that don’t always stand in harmony with each other and that, in their disagreement, highlight a more complex reality, that involves more marginal positions. Disagreements that undermine the linearity of the official history and the homogenizing image of the “Porto School”. These stories oscillate between two poles: between a social and political utopia strongly influenced by May 1968; and the formal and disciplinary utopia that characterized radical thinking in the 1970s. The narrative proposal focuses on the generation of students who began their studies in the School of Fine Arts of Porto (ESBAP) in 1970, involving oppositions between Marxists and Leninists, Maoists and Trotskyists, anarchists and Situationists. If we commence with the ambition to contribute to a more complex view of the “Porto School”, we can already state that, in parallel, we have the dissimulated ambition to question this pacifying concept, that was emphasized in the 1980s and 1990s, in the shadow of the internationalization of Álvaro Siza Vieira. Indeed, we propose to focus on other narratives, certainly smaller, but that represent a counterculture, a radical pedagogy, or self-taught trajectories identified with a critique of everyday life and demonstrated in projects, in interventional actions, in performative gestures, and in movements of insurrection or irony. In this “B Side”, we propose a trajectory that ranges from ‘illusion to disillusionment’, before and after the April 1974 Revolution, which resulted in the voluntary and involuntary distancing of some of the students and teachers of ESBAP. This story begins with the departure of Carlos Ramos as director of the Architecture course in the School of Fine Arts of Porto (ESBAP) in 1967, followed by collective resignation of the faculty, due to reasons of contractual uncertainty, and increasing challenge to the regime, under the influence of May 1968 and the student revolts of 1969. These developments pushed ESBAP’s Architecture course, under the apparent open spirit of the ‘Marcelist Spring” towards the so-called ‘experimental regime’. At the time, newspapers described the experimental regime as ‘innovative’ and ‘radical’, due to shared management between students and teachers, the absence of conventional disciplines, the absence of records of non-attendance, of schedules, all of which aimed to promote the integration of the various topics structured around a central core: the architectural project (viewed from a broad perspective). This system of education - divided into thematic areas and groups rather than academic years - advocated continued assessment, that involved both teachers and students. It didn’t last long but, stepping back, the “57 Reform”, although coveted by the “reactionary” management staff of the ESBAP (imposed by the ministry), was rejected by most students and teachers. The environment of permanent political contestation, with persecutions and processes initiated against students and teachers, paralysed the school at various times. Between 1969 and 1974, the school year began in April and extended until September. The vast majority of students only visited the professors’ offices and this practice became the basis for their teaching practice. The 1974 Revolution and the consequent SAAL process (1974-76), meant that the architects went into the streets: attending demonstrations, occupations and the “right to the city”. The school remained “empty”.