A conversation with Arch. Pedro Ferreira Pinto


A conversation with Arch. Pedro Ferreira Pinto

'I am looking for an architecture with a minimalist aspect and without excesses of austerity that tries to respond to society's challenges. I try to introduce an idea of simplicity, elegance and culture. ’

Why did you choose to have your degree in Porto? What do you remember of those times? And why did you choose architecture?

I was born in Porto but I came to Lisbon very young. I graduated in Porto because Arch. Carlos Ramos (father) said to my parents and to me: “to learn what architecture is, come and visit the Escola do Porto.” As we had family in Porto it was easy to adapt but difficult to integrate. In the first year, I came to Lisbon every weekend … after two years it became sporadically. I’ve choose Architecture because I had the influence of a father who drew fantastically well and, on a Lisbon-Porto trip, would stop in some places and said: “get out of the car and enjoy this landscape and this air that doesn’t existe in the city”, or slow down next to a farmhouse gate to call attention to the proportion and its details. And also a mother, with English education and rigor, who gave me the appetite to try to intervene in professional life through the world of architecture at 16 or 17 years old.

You have returned to Lisbon to work. What city did you find?

I’ve returned to Lisbon after finishing the course, in 1965, and after an internship with the architect João Andresen, teacher of Urbanism at Escola do Porto. I was lucky to meet, in Lisbon, the architect José de Almada Negreiros, with whom I did several works, including the beginning of the project of Colégio de São Miguel, in Fátima, which would become the theme of my C.O.D.A. work (thesis) defended in 1968, with the collaboration of Eng. Ernesto Veiga de Oliveira, from BETAR. The two Faculties, Lisbon and Porto, had different processes of approaching the teaching of architecture. In Porto the school functioned as a workshop, we had good spaces for classrooms / studios and the projects were mandatorily carried out in these areas. In Lisbon, a lot of work was done outside the school and in the studios of the architects (functionalism and influence of the European architecture currents). Near 25th of April 1974, due to the social and political conjuncture, the labor market in the area of ​​architecture was very limited, with many studios closing. It was almost “politically incorrect” to talk about architecture. What was on the agenda was planning.

Your daughters work with you. How does this partnership work?

Partnerships work just like two different generations: both generations are right but they always “fight each other”, maintaining the independence of solutions or completing each other.

Tell us about the experience in Brazil.

In Brazil, there is a freedom of action and the size of the country is such that I came to do work in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasília and Foz de Iguaçu, cities hundreds or thousands of kilometers apart, but always working from Rios studio; even though we had partners in São Paulo in tourism resorts. I was lucky, I got used to it and I was able to design resorts near Guarujá, São Paulo coast, and Angra dos Reis.

Your concept of architecture is fundamentaly based on the connection between man and nature. What are the main foundations or characteristics of your work?

I look for an architecture with a minimalist design and without an excess of austerity but giving much importance to the interior / exterior relationship and trying, in any way, to meet the challenges of today’s society. I always try to introduce an idea of ​​simplicity, elegance and culture in architecture.

Is there any particular project that you consider special? Why?

I consider special the project won in a competition for the Instituto de Comunicações de Portugal, ICP, designed in collaboration with the Architect Luís Casal Ribeiro’s studio, for its simplicity and plasticity of the solution. A project where a more technological approach was chosen by “dressing” the main façades and covering with photovoltaic panels, thus contributing to an optimization of the building’s energy efficiency (in 2001 it would be a challenge). I also consider two other works that had the collaboration of Eng. José Pedro Venâncio da Betar to be special: the family home in Comporta, due to the way it articulates with the territory and the landscape and the way you with the greatest simplicity; and the recovery and expansion of the Av. Biarritz, in Monte do Estoril, a early 20s house, due to the introduction of a contemporary language (iron structure and glass ) in addition to the existing construction. To these projects I would also add rehabilitation interventions, which have always been the prerogative of this office and of those who preceded it, Arqui lll and JAPFP Arquitectos e Associados.

What are you doing today?

I mainly focused on two work fronts: concerning architecture, the projects for Herdade da Comporta, continuing the research of environment models that have been proposed in the last ten years; and regarding urbanism, the development of tourism resorts and the rehabilitation of low-density peri-urban areas.

What, in your opinion, are the major responsibilities of architecture for the future?

With an ongoing period of technological revolution, and thinking about the current life models, or those that can be envisaged, I would say that the great effort will now lie (as before) in the ability to anticipate solutions to the challenges imposed by society, namely, those related to the environment (making resource protection compatible with technological development and evolution); and time management (a better balance between working time and leisure time). All of this, without ever losing the perspective that, quoting Marguerite Yourcenar, in the work “Memórias de Adriano”: to build “… is to collaborate with the land; it is leave a mark in a landscape that will transform it forever; it is also contributing to the slow transformation that is the life of cities.” Reconstructing “… is to collaborate with time under its aspect of the past, to apprehend or modify its spirit, to serve as a seed for a longer future….”

This interview is part of the Artes & Letras Magazine # 64, May 2015
Partially automatic translation from portuguese: some expressions may differ from their actual meaning.

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