La Capela do Monte
Alvaro Siza
Lagos, Portugal
Álvaro Siza is the author of this small chapel in a rural area of southern Portugal. Pure abstraction with no need for electricity, heating, or running water, it is a peaceful retreat amid a natural landscape.

A part of the Monte da Charneca Center Project, the chapel was commissioned to Siza in 2016 by a Swiss-American couple living in the area.
 

Located in a clearing at the top of a hill, with dense vegetation as backdrop, the building rises on a simple solid block that presents a slightly elevated courtyard connected to the building volume and leading inside.
 

From outside, the monolithic geometry suggests a serene interior, which features white claddings and wooden furniture designed by Siza and made by Serafim Pereira Simões Sucessores, a team of carpenters from Porto. The building is designed for the place and with the place.
 

The small chapel, conceived as “a pure architectural project,” is planned in such a way that it can do without electricity, heating, and running water; all it needs is natural ventilation and materials that have the capacity to keep the place cool in summer and warm in winter: insulated brick, limestone, tiles.
 

The Monte da Charneca Center project also includes the renovation of seven dwellings which are typical in the region. New residential structures will go up until 2021, when the center opens, always in a consistent architectural style, along with facilities meant to revitalize agricultural activity.
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