Everyday hundreds of people take the metro and pass by Lapa metro station. There, all you can see is a big grey wall, hiding one of Porto’s best modern secrets: Bairro da Bouça, a social residence complex, in Cedofeita, crafted by the genius mind of Siza Vieira.
In grey and white, with strokes of burgundy, this social intervention dates from the 70’s, when young new architects were challenged to elaborate a handful of buildings destined to harbor the poor through the SAAL project. This residential block is one of the finest works of that project, and it receives some daily attention due to its author: Siza Vieira, one of the great Portuguese culture ambassadors. Because of that, it became routine for the inhabitants of the neighbourhood to see people visiting and photographing its walls and facades, something that is quite odd for this kind of infrastructure.
Speaking of the inhabitants, not only the most needy occupy these blocks. Actually, nowadays, all kinds of people live there, from art teachers to students, and there is some actual pride and community sense between the residents. The festivities of S. João, the city’s biggest holiday, is cheerfully celebrated among the Bouça people, so if you happen to be in Porto during that holiday, you might want to check it out.
Planted just across the metro station of Lapa, Bouça is a must see for every architecture curious, especially if you’re interested in discovering the vast spoil of Siza’s work all around Porto.