Architects: Biography Paolo Portoghesi


The many projects and writings of Paolo Portoghesi (1931) reveal a desire to restore the historical memory of tradition to the innovative aspects of contemporary architecture.

With a degree in History of Architecture from Rome in 1957, Portoghesi began his in-depth study of the Baroque and Borrominian periods, and was appointed professor of History of Criticism at Rome University (1961). 

At this time his work was largely academic and historic, though some of his designs stand out, offering an indication of what was to be his future approach to design. 

In particular the Baldi home (1961) that stands out for its spirit and incorporation of aspects of 17th century architecture, along with a series of public and private projects, including some in Spain, Jordan and Sudan (in collaboration with the engineer Gigliotti from 1964 on).

In the decade 1967-1977 Portoghesi pursued an academic career teaching Architecture History at Politecnico di Milano; he was appointed dean of the Humanistic Institute between 1968 and 1976, where he introduced innovative teaching methods, partly in response to the student movements of the day.

He founded and is still editor-in-chief of the magazines Controspazio, Eupalino and Materia

Under his direction of the Architecture section of the Biennale in Venice between 1979 and 1982, the exhibition “La presenza del passato” (“The presence of the past”) contributed to the debate about postmodernism, along with a series of successful publications. 

His writings of this time include Inhibitions of modern architecture (1974) and Postmodernism: Architecture in post-industrial society (1982).

His many buildings in Italy include the Fine Arts Academy in L’Aquila (1978); the housing complex for ENEL workers in Tarquinia (1988); Catanzaro Theatre (2002); and above all, the big Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre project in Rome, which took more than 15 years to build and opened in 1991.

The Mosque in Rome is one of many religious buildings designed by Portoghesi, including the Chiesa della Sacra Famiglia in Salerno (1968) and Santa Maria della Pace in Terni (1997); he still continues to work on projects for places of worship.

Projects built abroad include the gardens in Montpellier; renovation of the Italian Embassy in Berlin; and the Central American Parliament building in Esquipulas, Guatemala.

Portoghesi has been awarded honorary degrees and a Legion of Honour (1985) and is an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects; he was appointed Cavaliere di Gran Croce of the Republic of Italy in 2002.

Paolo Portoghesi selected works

- Cesena Cemetery (Italy), 2003

- Renaissance area in Parco Talenti, park in Rome (2001)

- Teatro Politeama, theatre in Catanzaro (Italy), 2002

- Civic Library, Abano Terme (Italy), 1999

- Savoia Excelsior Residence, Rimini (Italy), 1998

- Offices of the Region of Calabria, Catanzaro (Italy), 1996

- New Headquarters of the College of Builders and the Union of Industrialists, Avellino (Italy), 1996

- Borsalino Building and Piazza, Alessandria (Italy), 1991

- School and tourist accommodations, Baia di Campi (Italy), 1991

- Piazza Monte Elimo, Poggioreale (Italy), 1991

- Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, Rome (Italy) 1991

- Chapel in the Chiesa Madre church, Alcamo (Italy), 1988 

- Salone delle Terme, spa in Montecatini Terme (Italy), 1988

- House in the Tegel district, Berlin (Germany), 1988

- Housing complex for ENEL workers, Tarquinia (Italy), 1988

- Piazza in Acireale (Italy), 1986

- Iacp house, Sesto San Giovanni, Milan (Italy), 1985

- Silone Library and Cultural Centre, Avezzano (Italy), 1970-1982 

- Fine Arts Academy, L’Aquila (Italy) 1978

- Chiesa della Sacra Famiglia, church in Fratte (Italy), 1974

- Baldi home, Rome (Italy), 1961