Siza and Al-Hiyari’s first session as mentor and protégé took place in September 2002, in Oporto, where Siza makes his home. Work began with the pair discussing the nature of architecture. Mentor and protégé soon discovered that they had similar views on the theory and practice of architecture.
Siza’s body of work
Providing maps of sites to visit and preparing introductions to clients, contractors, other architects, Siza made sure that Al-Hiyari’s hours on his own would be well spent. One day, mentor and protégé took a field trip to several of Siza’s projects nearby, where they noted in passing such glamorous minutiae as leaks and cracks, reminders of the perpetual shadow that falls between conception and creation.
Interchange and architecture
But their most memorable hours were spent in reflection on the nature and the purpose of the work they do. “We both like to talk about architecture,” Siza says simply, during Al-Hiyari’s second short residency in Portugal, in November 2002. “We have been talking about the approach to building a house for a family. Architecture always develops through interchange. The great danger is to lapse into routine.”
Meetings continued in November 2002, when the pair met in Oporto and also travelled to Lisbon to view one of Siza’s projects. The pair met, often on a daily basis, in February, late March, May and June. In March, Siza reviewed a competition entry by Al-Hiyari for two 20-storey towers for residential use in Kuwait City a competition that Al-Hiyari ultimately won.