At the start of the Christmas vacation, the second year students were given the opportunity to visit Porto in Portugal, along with the six design tutors. As well as the historic river front and port houses, Porto has a strong contemporary architecture scene, including a number of works by local architects Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura. The visit took in a wide variety of building types, starting on Friday with Siza's Leça da Palmeira sea pools and the Boa Nova tea house, both on the rocks fronting the Atlantic. Saturday started with a visit to the Bolhao Market, an amazing sunken market space in the heart of an urban block in central Porto. We then walked via the historic river front to Siza's architecture school, where a fifth year student gave us a passionate tour of the complex.
Saturday ended with a full tour of OMA's Casa da Musica, which some of us had also visited on Friday evening for a concert. On Sunday morning, we all headed to Braga to visit the awesome football stadium by Souto de Moura, set against the dramatic quarry backdrop. At lunch time we divided into two groups, one heading further into Braga to visit another Souto de Moura project - the do Caranda market/cultural centre; and the second group returning to Porto to visit the Serralves art gallery by Siza. As it happened, the trip included visits to the three building types currently under consideration in the three second year studios, and offered a valuable opportunity to experience and study historic and contemporary architecture first hand.