A Portugese Chapel by Pedro Mauricio Borges 04.08.11

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The local priest changed architect Pedro Mauricio Borges' mind about the location of this chapel. When Borges was asked to build a chapel for the inhabitants of the village of Netos, central Portugal, he thought it would be in a special place, "maybe a hill overlooking the village". It turned out to be a traffic island between three roads.

"I was complaining about the location," Borges says, "and the priest tells me 'but that's the best place ... that's the place where the people pass by every day. So you should put the chapel right by the road, to get it in the daily life of those drivers.'"

Up to that point, Borges had been considering walling in his chapel. After the chat, he started thinking about making the structure more of a landmark – a larger version of the small roadside shrines that are common in Catholic countries. The statue of Christ in the picture window can be rotated to face inside when the chapel is in use. The thick wall is cut so that "when you're inside, it seems like the Christ is floating outside", says Borges.

The walls are brick and concrete, rendered with cement mixed with stone chips, so that the chapel takes on the colour of stone. The form is very simple, but the road junction means that it's approached from a number of different directions, and looks different each time. From some angles, it's a stylised gothic profile, ascending sharply to a spire; from others, the silhouette resembles an archetypal house.

 

Words

William Wiles

quotes story

The walls are brick and concrete, rendered with cement mixed with stone chips, so that the chapel takes on the colour of stone

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