The Serralves park is one of the last recreational farms built in Oporto. Begun in 1925, the year in which Carlos Alberto Cabral, Count of Vizela, inherits the property, the intervention in this territory continues until the mid-1940s.
That same year the Count, accompanied by the architect Marques da Silva, visits the International Exhibition of Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris. There they saw the modernist pavilions of Mallet-Stevens, Melnikov, Le Corbusier, Perret, assimilating purist language and art deco.
The new house, designed by Marques da Silva, presents a great formal restraint, betting on a dynamic relation of the cubic volumes of which stands the sculptural tower of the chapel and large glazed surfaces. A high platibanda hides the roof guaranteeing the modern image that was intended for the exterior of the house.
The luxurious interior, organized around an axis perpendicular to the main axis of the property, is composed of a series of common spaces gathered around a double foyer. The studies of interior decoration were carried out from 1930 by the famous house Ruhlmann & Laurent de Paris.
This project of Marques da Silva represents in a certain way the top of his career, anticipating in his austerity and volumetric game the Infanta D. Maria high school, in Coimbra, designed in 1931. The concrete structure was designed by the engineer Teixeira Rego.
Complementing the design of the house, the count commissioned the French architect Jacques Gréber (1882-1926) to design the park, which included a set of gardens and an agricultural farm, as well as new land acquired to increase the property. Gréber was responsible for designing other art deco gardens, commissioned by rich patrons. The initial study dates back to 1932 and its construction was relatively rapid.
From the geological point of view, the terrain contains areas of shale and granite. A water line cuts the ground, defining a set of ecological microsystems that articulate in a varied way, allowing a great diversity of landscape and functional solutions. The strongest slope lies precisely along this water source that contains a forest space that separates the garden area from the agricultural area.
The design of the garden is based on the topological conditions present, as well as the rules and alignments created by the buildings, namely by the house, which assumes a dominant presence in this territory. An axis that crosses the house structuring all the land, in an extension of five hundred meters, in descending solution on the river Douro.
The gardens, located at the highest point of the terrain, are divided into several geometrically arranged nuclei: in the center a symmetrical terrace on different levels, the lateral garden, the rose garden and the tennis court. Numerous built elements like walls, stairs, pergolas or the house of the fresh complement the vegetal species in the definition of the spaces.
In 1944 the Count of Vizela settled in Serralves but about ten years later he was forced to sell the property to Delfim Ferreira, Count de Riba de Ave, another enriched industrialist.
In 1987 the Ministry of Culture buys the property of Serralves and in 1989 the Foundation of Serralves installs a museum in the house of the Count of Vizela. The following year is considered a zone of landscape, urbanistic and architectural protection in the Municipal Master Plan of Porto. In 1996 the group formed by the constructed elements and the gardens is declared Property of Public Interest.
The new building of the Serralves museum, designed by the architect Siza Vieira, was implanted on the garden and orchard of the old garden and forced a redesign of the exterior spaces of this area of the property, whose project was executed by the landscape architect João Gomes da Silva. In order to obviate the loss of the primitive garden, a garden of aromatic plants was built at a lower point of the ground.