Porto’s modern architecture is having a moment
Instagram would have you believe that Porto is all Baroque tiles and towers — and to be fair, a lot of it is. A boom in tourism has revitalised the old city centre after decades of depopulation and dereliction. New businesses and cafes are popping up, restoring the oldest buildings and polishing the azulejo facades that visitors love.
But let’s not overlook the work that went into this boom: the years of investment, beginning with Porto’s designation as a 2001 European Culture Capital; the cultivation of homegrown architectural talent at the Porto School of Architecture (with Pritzker-winning alumnae like Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto de Moura); and the efforts to elevate new infrastructure with designs from the international greats. Kengo Kuma and Associates in collaboration with OODA, for example, won a competition in 2018 to transform the Porto Slaughterhouse, which has been abandoned for 20 years, into spaces for art, performance, and archives under an undulating ceramic roof.
Porto has seen museums, concert halls, and an entire metro system join its churches and bookshops as architectural highlights in the past 25 years, and it’s keeping the momentum up. Local practices overflow with restorations and reclamations as boutique hotels or private homes make the most of the unusual spaces offered by Porto’s old centre. The larger projects tend to be a mix of residential and new hotels — while civic works try to walk the line between catering for the tourist boom and creating good spaces for locals.
Here, we compile a selection of architectural projects catering to this renewed interest in Porto