Paulo Mendes da Rocha's Collection at Casa da Arquitectura

The arrival of the entire Paulo Mendes da Rocha collection follows the donation, in 2015, of the National Coach Museum project and, in 2018, of a set of seven projects for the Brazilian Architecture Collection. 
Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s collection, which now arrives at Casa da Arquitectura, includes all the material produced during his long professional life, from the 1950s to the present day.
This incorporation encompasses nearly 8.800 items, relating to more than 320 projects and comprises: 
approx. 6.300 analogue drawings 
approx. 3.000 photographs and slides 
a set of models made by the architect himself 
approx. 300 publications.
For the Executive Director of Casa da Arquitectura, Nuno Sampaio, the arrival of this collection is a reason “of great satisfaction, due to the availability of Paulo Mendes da Rocha in acceding to our challenge to incorporate the totality of his collection in CA, completing the two previous donations”. And he adds: “Casa da Arquitectura is committed to maintain the unicity of the collection, presenting it to the world through its digital platforms and sharing and making available to researchers, students, universities at zero cost, promoting the study, publication and research on this very important work''. 
The Minister of Culture, Graça Fonseca, said, in this regard, that “we are very proud to welcome in Portugal the complete collection of the prestigious Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, author of the National Coach Museum, in Lisbon. It is with confidence in the institution Casa da Arquitectura – Portuguese Centre for Architecture and in the work developed by it in the treatment, conservation and public dissemination of the different collections that it has been hosting, that I welcome this very important collection for the history and knowledge of contemporary architecture worldwide.” 
It is worth remembering that last year Casa da Arquitectura received the support from the Portuguese Government for its activities, through the Ministry of Culture.
José Manuel Dias da Fonseca, president of CA, sees the “donation of Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s archive to Casa da Arquitectura as a great moment for Portugal. Exemplary. One of the greatest architects in the world acknowledged Portugal and CASA as the right shelter for his entire archive, through this donation. Exemplary. It is surely one of the happiest moments in the still short life of Casa da Arquitetura, which despite being short already brings together valuable architectural assets and collections. Exemplary.” 

Collection will be available online 

Casa da Arquitectura will hold a monographic Exhibition dedicated to the architect in mid-2022, whose curatorial team will include architect Catherine Otondo, who was involved in the collection inventory process together with architect Berta Oliveira. For the Executive Director, this will be the “biggest exhibition on the work of Paulo Mendes da Rocha to be held in Portugal at Casa da Arquitectura”. 
The collection will integrate the Casa’s Archive Digital Platform, which will be launched later this year, and which will allow universal access to all documents. For research and study purposes, Casa also provides high resolution images free of charge, thus promoting research and the development of knowledge about the work of the Brazilian architect. 
In 2019, Casa da Arquitectura created a Study and Documentation Centre that will promote and encourage the investigation of the collection, namely with the creation of research grants in partnership with several public institutions, as well as, in a privileged way, with Universities from all over the world. 
Casa da Arquitectura is responsible for preserving the collection in the best conditions in its five Archive areas and will manage the lending policy of the various elements for multiple uses – exhibitions, publications and other forms of dissemination of the work. 
Casa is also committed to keeping accessible the physical supports that can be consulted at Casa da Arquitectura, through prior appointment. 
Nuno Sampaio considers that “the work of Paulo Mendes da Rocha is recognized for its merit and quality throughout the world, adding to it a recognized and published universal thought”. And he concludes: “I had the opportunity to work with the architect on the National Coach Museum project and I admire him very much for his thinking and for his directness. He could have chosen any institution in the world to incorporate his collection, so I am delighted that he has chosen to integrate it into Casa da Arquitectura ”. 

Opinions on the arrival of the Collection

Catherine Otondo

The set of documents included in the Collection of projects by the Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha is composed of about 9 thousand drawings, dozens of models, photographs of works and publications.
The particularity of this set is evidently the exceptional quality of the projects carried out and their temporality that spans the second half of the 20th century, and enters the 21st century, actively dialoguing with the present time.
By studying these documents, students, teachers and researchers from all over the world will be able to build diverse narratives, from a story that begins in the first decades of the 60s, when the projects drawing was freehand.
Each of the 320 projects that make up the Paulo Mendes da Rocha Collection, reveals a unique and special way of thinking and making architecture: a vision between the local and the universal, and a reflection on the human condition on the planet, foundations this architect’s work.

David Adjaye

Paulo Mendes da Rocha builds on the foundations established by post war generation architects who understood the significance of construction in society as a means for edification.
Da Rocha’s work investigates critical typologies emerging from a post war condition of burgeoning cities and proposed new ideas about infrastructure, dwelling and urban living. His work is profoundly hopeful and is a beacon for future generations in understanding how to move into the complexities of the 21st century.

Giorgio Grassi

It is very important the existence of institutions, such as Casa da Arquitectura, in Matosinhos, dedicated to guarding, conserving and disseminating the architects' document heritage (drawings, models, photographs, texts, etc.). These elements are an indispensable documental source for the understanding of Architecture, either the built or the non-built one. Architects' archives are the testimony of the process that led to their built work, but also everything they designed and failed to build. The donation of Paulo Mendes da Rocha´s (PMR) archive is, therefore, significant of the importance of institutions such as Casa da Arquitectura, but also of the documental value of the drawings and the theoretical and otherwise explanatory writings of the architects.
It is also important and significant, in this case of PMR, that the archive has been kept entirely under the custody of a single institution, allowing the full investigation of his work in a single space. Finally, it is very important that an institution like Casa da Arquitectura may not only preserve and treat the archives of the architects it has gathered, but also disseminate and interpret their legacy through exhibitions, catalogues, conferences and all kinds of actions, which Casa has already proved publicly capable of doing, with interest and relevance, as in the case of the exhibition “Souto de Moura: Memory, Projects, Works”.


Paulo Mendes da Rocha 
Pritzker Prize in 2006, Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016, Paulo Mendes da Rocha is one of the great donors for the Casa da Arquitectura archive and its first honorary associate member, a distinction that was announced during the inauguration of the Exhibition “Infinito Vão – 90 Years of Brazilian Architecture” in September 2018. At that time, he also opened the “Two Houses by Paulo Mendes da Rocha” exhibition, curated by architect Nuno Sampaio, which remained on display at the Casa’s Gallery until February 2019.
  • Model in wood © Ivo Tavares

  • © Ivo Tavares

  • Casa's Archive © Ivo Tavares

  • © Ivo Tavares

Digital Media

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    Paulo Mendes da Rocha's collection at Casa da Arquitectura

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    Ana Sousa Dias: Paulo Mendes da Rocha's interview

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