bonjour trisstese    One day in 1984, shortly after the building was finished, somebody wrote Bonjour Tristesse on the façade. And that’s the name the building at nº 8, Schlesische Street in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin has had ever since: Bonjour Tristesse. Good Morning, Sadness. We don’t know if the person who did the graffiti was inspired by Françoise Sagan’s book or by the film based on it. Perhaps an inhabitant of Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza’s building wanted to report the building’s inner and outer sadness. Nobody’s ever known. Alvaro Siza was commissioned to build it in 1980. He got an order to construct a building on a piece of land which had been destroyed during the war, and it had to be finished in time for the 1987 International Construction Exhibition. When he got the order, he decided to go for a reinterpretation of urban spaces and a critical approach to construction. He followed the Germanic aesthetics of the buildings in the area in terms of windows and structure, but made the façade soft and edge-less, which made it look like a curved statue.

Siza proclaimed architectural economy and practicality. Being a left-wing architect, he said from the start that he wanted the new inhabitants to have their homes as quickly as possible, and work was finished two years before the given deadline. And, as soon as the building was finished, it said good morning to sadness. At first, Alvaro Siza didn’t like the graffiti at all and asked for it to be removed. But repainting the façade wasn’t going to be at all cheap and, while they were looking for a solution, Siza started to fall in love with the words. Probably because he associated them with saudade. By the time they had found a way to wipe the sadness graffiti away, it had nested in the building.