Conceived for the blue room of the Palácio Pombal in Lisbon, this sculptural composition explores ideas of history, space and form with all the freedom of art, seeking to express the perennial aspect of architectural form. It draws from the pyramid, evoking three projects that are distant from each other in time and materiality: the great Pyramid of Cheops in Giza, built around 2560 BC; the unbuilt inverted concrete pyramid designed in 1954 by Oscar Niemeyer for the Caracas Modern Art Museum; and the glass pyramid by Ieoh Ming Pei installed in the courtyard of the Louvre, Paris in 1984.
Labelled as an heir to the modern movement, and obsessed with Mies van der Rohe’s built and published designs, Souto de Moura does not shy away from appropriating the history of architecture and its forms and meanings, even if that entails a loss of historical references in the search for new significations. This use – and even abuse – of history is disconnected from the proclaimed “continuity” of architectural history and the legacy of modern architecture. It can be argued that Souto de Moura is primarily interested in the autonomy of form, incorporating into his designs the illusion of a certain autonomy in the idiom itself, or in architecture itself. Nevertheless, one can still decipher occult or explicit relationships between things, and, like Aby Warburg, identify the links between forms and objects. It seems almost impossible to avoid an endless world of association.
While form matters, its meaning can remain a riddle, or a gift for historians or the passer-by. If the architect has to stand up for the formal and constructive quality of his designs, he can claim the freedom of art for his creations.