Mortuary House in Vila Caiz by Raul Sousa Cardoso & Graca Vaz

Integrated in a hybrid residential context which crosses urban and rural references, the mortuary house emerges as a filter between them and a universe of contemplation of the distant mountains.

Bounded by a municipal road, a farmland and the Church of Vila Caiz, the constructed volume results from the confluence between the axes of delimiters ground, framing the landscape and solar orientation.

The materiality of the building integrates and filters the context in which it operates through grilles cover crops in concrete (filter of light and views) granite floors, walls and paneling in conjunction with the whiteness of the walls.

The interior space results mainly from three major interconnection between spaces defined by an atrium and two rooms that can be joined or fragmented depending on the circumstances.

The view of the distant mountains combined with the water from a tank that strategically reflects in the slope of the roof and walls of the mortuary are factors that catalyze an environment of neutrality, silence and introspection.

Raul Sousa Cardoso & Graca Vaz
Location: Vila Caiz, Amarante
Area: 110 m2
Photos: Jose Campos
May 2014


Church of Seed by O Studio Architects

Church of Seed is located at Luofu Mountain Scenery District – one of the seven famous Taoist Mountains in China. Although there are various kinds of Taoist and Buddhist temples in this district, western religious element has not yet been found. Besides developing private houses, the client in this project intends to develop a small church for the surrounding village people in order to widen the spectrum of religious culture. This church provides not only a worship and meditation space for Christians, but also a recreational and gathering place for the surrounding village people. The message of religious culture is communicated subtly through the play of light and shadow in this architecture.

Situated within the beautiful landscape of Luofu Mountain, Church of Seed has an area of 280m2 and can accommodate 60 people. The design concept is triggered by the form of a seed – a famous metaphorical element in the Gospel stories. A curve line follows the outline of a seed and marks the enclosing wall element. The curve is then split into three parts, and three entries are formed at where the curve wall splits: the south east facing wall has a cross shape opening which introduces morning sun into the interior; the west facing wall is solid and blocking the afternoon sun; the north facing wall is thicken to accommodate toilet facility. The stepping roof terrace allows diffuse northern daylight into the interior and provides a dramatic headroom increment (3 – 12 meters) from the main entrance towards the worshiping space.

Visitors can walk up to the stepping roof terrace, arrive at the observation deck and enjoy the distant view of mountain and water.

Church of Seed has a raw, natural and non-decorative material language. The main structure is constructed by in-situ concrete with bamboo formworks. In-situ concrete construction is economically sound and practical for local builders. The bamboo texture left on the concrete surface reduces the massiveness of concrete wall and harmonizes with the surrounding trees and green landscape. Plus the transparent windows and doors, and the handmade bamboo furniture by local farmers, the presence of the church is humble and close to village life.

Although a seed is the starting point of this design, the church does not intend to literally illustrate its image. The abstract form and space of the church is conveyed through the play of light, shadow, material and texture. This is not a piece of architecture which purely celebrates its sculptural form, but a building which respects the natural environment and local culture.

Architects: O Studio Architects
Location: Huizhou, Guangdong, China
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Fai Au, Iwan Baan
Project Area: 280.0 sqm
Site Area: 1,200 sqm


Church in La Laguna by Menis Arquitectos

Designing and constructing a church has never been an easy task for architects. It is a challenge to create a space not meant for accomodation or further customization, but a space that has its own soul, gives an aura of serenity and conveys intimate spiritual experience. This particular church, completed in 2008 in a town La Laguna on the island of Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain), is a challenge well done by Fernando Menis of the Menis Arquitectos.

The building consists of four volumes, visually separated by rifts in the walls that align into cross on the front nave. Apart from the obvious symbolic function they allow the daylight into the interior which strengthens the calm meditative atmosphere. The whole structure takes up more than 1000 m² and cost 600,000 euro.


Shiv Temple by Sameep Padora and Associates

The Shiv Temple from the hands of Sameep Padora & Associates, based in Mumbai, merges symbolism and iconography of Hinduizm with the vernacular shikhara temple form. In a joint effort with the local townsfolk and spiritual leaders the authors constructed the temple with locally sourced basalt, a product of cooled down lava. The natural patina of the material creates an impression of ancientness.

Flourishing trees bordering the area along with the sky define a sort of outdoor room, in place of a “mandapa” – a traditional pillared hall. The seating created by elevated and layered terrain is mainly utilized for public gatherings and religious ceremonies. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful nature even from the interior through the wooden frame of the entrance. The culminating ceiling with an open skylight, allows the light to shine down upon the statues within the inner sanctum.


Mourning House by Pascal Arquitectos

This is a project with very strong emotional implications. We had to understand the mood of the user, who at such this moment would not care very much for an aesthetical analisis of any place, but at the same time we wanted to create a space that can create a spritual mood, for this we refered to ancient buidings that were designed for this purpose, as the Egiptian “Mastabas” or some Mayan buildings in Palenque.

Religious rules and buildings codes in the Jewish Religion are very strict for this kind of places, and we were guided by several groups of Rabbies for this matter.

A project of this nature must encourage introspection and peaceful visual harmony through a discrete use of materials and lighting. The construction is located in a residential area and being planned as an isolated construction from the sorroundings, an indoor illuminated yard was built. The building façade is completely covered by Grissal flamed granite.

The building welcomes de visitor with a 6´4” wide and 30´ high triangular shaped wooden door which leads to an access tunnel in the same shape, creating a solemn atmosphere as you enter. This darkening experience at the entrance ends when the hallway opens to a large, double height granite hall illuminated by the northern light coming from the indoor courtyard with a tall Dracaena at the center and a symbolical abstract sculpture by artist Saul Kaminer as the only artwork piece for decoration.

No furniture was used inside this place,only a floating bench surrounding the room, that is made out of the same wood used in all the building. It also serves to hide al of the air conditioning, speakers and recesed lighting which adds a dramatical touch. This way the rooms shows no added ornament but the light and shades playing on the granite volumes.The ceiling is made of dark cumaru wood and floats without touching any wall and a skylight puts a highlight on this detail.


• November 2008 – IV SMI International Biennal of Interior and Landscape Design, Guadalajara 2008. Silver Medal Winners: Meditation House, Institutional – Religious Category. Honourable Mention for Nisha Lounge Bar Hospitality, Restaurants and Bars Category.

• August 2008 – X Biennal of Mexican Architecture Exhibition 2008. Silver Medal Winners: Meditation House (Religious buildings) and Honourable Mention for Nisha Lounge Bar (Interior Design and Visual Integration).

• May 2008 – IX Biennal of Architecture 2008, Costa Rica: “Retos y Desafíos del siglo XXI”. 2008 First Prize Winners with Meditation House.

• November 2007- Bienal Miami+Beach 2007. Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Design. Silver Medal Winner, Public Buildings below 10,000 sq.feet, Meditation Chapel.

Architectural Project: Pascal Arquitectos, Carlos Pascal & Gerard Pascal
Construction: Arch. Rafael Salame
Project Date: 2006
Area: 262 m2
Address: Bosques de las Lomas, Mexico City
Photographer: Víctor Benítez


Tree of Life Chapel by Cerejeira Fontes

Architects of portugese office Cerejeira Fontes executed a project of a chapel for a clergy school in the historical town of Braga in northern Portugal. The main idea was to connect the chapel with spaces of the St. Jacob’s centre. The volume of the chapel was integrated into the vestibule of the centre, whose neutral concrete walls allowed the new element to stand out. The mass of the chapel is made of wooden beams stacked onto each other, creating gaps that may also serve as storage compartments.

Transparency of the mass optically expands the interior of the chapel and allows bypassers to peer inside. Entrance to the chapel is found in one of its corners, where it opens up a complex shaped inner space. The wooden construction necks down with rising height and the top is left unsealed. This allows the visitors in the mezzanine above, to see into the chapel.


Lilja Chapel by UPM Architects

The Lilja chapel is a temporary construction made of prefabricated panels – a sanctuary for meditation. The project is based on a winning design of a student competition, and was constructed by the UPM Architects in Oulu, Finland. This mobile chapel is made of WISA plywood, which enables to create an open, airy space with an abundance of natural light.

The object is situated into a beautiful, natural Scandinavian landscape, which is open for enjoyment from the side of the glass facade. The architects aimed for the chapel to be as open as possible, and they achieved this by using simple geometric shapes. The chapel does not have any doors or religious symbols, which creates an nondenominational sanctuary for calm and serenity.


Let’s p[ray] with the ray and shade

In the beginning, this mosque was a simple aspiration from the surronding residence to celebrate Ramadhan 2011. They work together according to their own ability to donate for the mosque that will be used in Ramadhan 2011, it can be said that the social aspect in this architecture piece is so bold.

Small doesn’t mean it unnactractive, small doesn’t mean it doesn’t have “architectural statement” the low budget doesn’t limit the architectural intervention to be shown, even though there is a probability to reduce the entire architectural statement.

There are many architects were inspired to play with lights, so when we thought about tropical simplicity shelter architecture architects are presented with several tools to play, we have shade and ray. According to this, we decide to move based on with shadow and ray, with contemporary statement, and creating a new language of architecture through it. Therefore, several fracture and folding used in this design often looks like giving space to each other, in order for liberating the shadow to communicate as the architectural language and creating his own story.

Even if this mosque has a modern look, it took the basic sillhouete from Datum mosque, mass horizontalism (plus dome sometimes) and minaret, which sometimes used as the easiest visual language to be recognized as the typological language. Some contemporary architectural language inserted here for instance are to make slits in the wall. The building was made slightly porous with random dots on the walls and ceilings, presenting an avenue for the light and shadow to speak, giving texture to the room interiors by creating patterns on the reflected surfaces.. In the evening prayers, that space becomes a language to deliver the intervention of indoor to outdoor so that the congregations are able to watch the stars from the porous space of the “perforated/holed” roof.

In finishing, this mosque are using two texture language, clean white colour and wood texture, this mosque is finished with this colour to express purification sense, so that there is only small amount of texture language, in order to liberate the expression space for the shadows and ray give their intervention from the porous to frame this tiny little mosque texture story, where ray and shadows language simply giving a dynamic space experience as the sun falls and the stars that can be seen from the porous space.

Baitul A’laa means a high place, this project is located in unique and difficult site which is a triangle site, because a mosque need a shape of square or rectangle. According to this, the finishing of the humble landscape is made as giving an “elevated” building effect. Finally this mosque were done and able to be used in Ramadhan 2011, further developments are still being planned,in several areas, for instance the toilet, parking, multifunction and administrator room.

This mosque’s design is basically expected to record the simplicity and beautifulness of human being in remembering God captured in texture, ray and shadow language within the present spirit.

Project: Baitul A’laa Mosque / P[RAY]HOUSE
Architect: Julian Palapa
Location: Raffles Hills Blok Q-R, Cibubur, Indonesia
Design Principal: Julian Palapa and Bayu Rismabuana (as Associates Designer)
Design Team: Nurul Andini (Architect Embassy )
Project Manager: Wira Farrel
Project Team: Eri Eko, Arief Hakim, Aris Fanany, Arief Adiharsa, Indrajati
Project Area: Gross Floor area: 180 sqm
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Ardha Dian Rizki ( ) / Julian Palapa

Restoration of the Church-Fortress of San Pietro

A project for renovation of a church-slash-fortress in the village Lingueglietta, in the municipality of Cipressa, Italy comes from the hands of the architects of the LDA studio. The historical building from the 12th century served as a church probably until the 16th century, when it was turned into a defensive stronghold, thanks to its advantageous elevated position on the coast, to fend off waves of barbaric invasion and protect the village. For these purposes, the original roof was replaced by a vault, supporting the reinforced terrace with embrasures in the high walls and a construction of two corner towers.

The church has a single nave with a semi-circular apse illuminated by three lancet windows. Walls of the building are made of local stone, perfectly worked and plastered. The apse and the facade are decorated with delicately carved decorative elements. Before commencing the renovation, a number of surveys and studies were made focused on the level of material deterioration in each part of the structure.

The overall restoration consisted of strengthening of the groundwork and the restoration of floor, plasterwork, doors, windows, roof and decorative elements. Wooden flooring on steel supports was added into the interior, to enable air flow. Two great central spaces were left open with the original stone tiling. A new steel staircase leads the visitors towards the gallery, with an access to the roof offers splendid views of the Liguria coast and its olive groves.


House in a church by Ruud Visser

There is a wooden church built in 1930 located along the river De Rotte in Rotterdam, Netherlands. It has been several years that the church has not served to the congregation. Nowadays it houses a car garage, that is why it has been covered by a number of metal plates, looking now more like a hangar as a church. Architecture office Ruud Visser in cooperation with Peter Boer have designed a reconstruction of the church to a house for a family with two children.

The new house has been constructed in the church as a separate building. In this design, the everyday profane and spiritual life are confronted. The space between the new house construction and existing church is open, so it is possible to walk around the house within the church and admire the architecture of the house and interior of the church at the same time. The rear glassed facade provides a fabulous view on the De Rotte river. The old “transept” of the church is open and separates the outside and private space.


Church in Tampa

Alfonso Architects have accepted a challenging project to renovate and extend an existing church in Tampa, Florida. The initial idea of the design should be a sequence generating proportions by Fibonacci. As the result a brand new church was build, it is connected to two existing building that were renovated and also reconnected to the outside court. Beside the church building designated to host holly ceremonies, it houses a number of office and study rooms.

Architects were supposed to create not only a number of individual buildings and their renovations but to design the surrounding area as well – a parking, green. A lot of architectural elements in the interior of exterior have biblical or numeric meaning, for example 3 olive trees or 7 candles etc. The overall design of the complex is very simple and minimalistic. Architects have accentuated details, not only shapes but materials and symbolic meaning of each element. As a church is very unique space, connected mostly with faith, it have to have a peaceful but still magic atmosphere. The interesting fact is a noose on the church bell.


Living under vaulted ceilings, Zecc

The old stone church which shows its age in weathered wear hides inside odd typology. Seeking to preserve this piece of history, however, its owners chose to transform the interior, creating a contemporary home within classic walls. Like other cool church conversions from Zecc, this small church renovation in Utrecht features a series of levels within the existing large space. Some decades ago, after church services stopped, it served as a two-story showroom for antique furniture. By pealing back part of this second level, more openness was achieved again. Beneath the open upper floor lie the privacy-oriented spaces of the residence, including bathrooms, bedrooms and a study. Vaulted ceilings and old surfaces were repainted white, wooden pews and hardwood floors were preserved just as many other historical elements.


St.Lawrence Chapel by Avanto Architects

This white beauty is an art-piece of a Finnish group Avanto Architects and is situated in the city of Vantaa, Finland. The funeral chapel was designed in order to accentuate the surroundings of a city with a rich history. The simple design enables to accentuate a medieval stone church with a bell tower. The chapel itself concurs the surroundings. The same idea was used for materials and masses, a neat white plastered walled construction is complemented with stone and copper roof with a soft veneer.

The main theme was to keep serenity and dignity of the funeral act. “Polku” is a Finnish term of a road and represents the idea of the design; the road illustrates how soul leaves from mortality to eternity. A changing light and geometric shapes reflect any movement in the building. A number of courts separate individual parts of the act. The wall falls back from an observer to the light, the space brings reconciliation to the bereaved.