An old and run-down church. Stripped to its bones, leaving bare its wonderfully rugged stone construction. Soaring upwards, it imparts a sense of solidity and longevity.
Into that verticality is placed an elevated chapel, raised and ensconced in a forest of wood. Beside and above, a new elongated concrete barrel vault hovers away from the existing walls, mediating the light from the windows and providing acoustics for the choir.
The rest of the furnishings are equally slender and spare, playing well as a counterpoint to the rough walls. Opposite the new chapel in the apse is a remarkable focal point: panels of thin marble create a screen before a full-height window, a glowing ribbon blazing into the interior.
This one isn’t quite an adaptive reuse, and it isn’t quite a renovation either… perhaps a re-inhabitation? Whatever we might classify it, it’s splendid.
Imaculada and Cheia de Graça Chapel by Cerejeira Fontes Architects