The particular story I want to narrate here begins a couple of years before OODA’s young founders started emerging from an architecture school in Porto.
Late in the summer of 2004, in a still tourist-flooded Venice, a smallish room in the old Artiglerie dell’Arsenale welcomed a representation of young Portuguese architects. The delegation eluded the fanfare of past national embassies to Italy, such as that most mythical celebration of the feats of Portuguese explorers some five hundred years earlier. And yet, this mission also held a certain promise and vibrancy. It held an untold ambition, which surely sheds some light on the present account.
Although the modern pioneers amongst Portuguese architects had international reputations since the 1960s, this was the first time that a Portuguese participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale was intentionally proposed, organized, and curated. Through a crack in the institutional passageways, before the establishment quickly took over this newly-perceived avenue to shine in a worldly context, an exhibition enigmatically named Metaflux arose as an opportunity to take a look at the alternative future of Portuguese architecture, rather than only at its sanctimonious present.
Truth be told, the previous edition of the most important networking event in the architecture world had already included Portuguese representatives. That was the year that the Biennale awarded the Golden Lion to Álvaro Siza Vieira — crowning his first successful Brazilian incursion, with the Iberê Camargo Foundation. Meanwhile, faced with the chance to inaugurate an official presence at the Architecture Biennale, the national commissioners avoided any hint of a conflictual curatorial choice. They brought to Venice a landscape architect’s solo show, which prior, and very conveniently, had been travelling through provincial Italian towns. By contrast, two years later, Metaflux and its bid of “two generations in recent Portuguese Architecture” aimed at a different, more provocative game.
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