Skewed Concrete Chapel By EMC Arquitectura Balances Over A Mountainside In El Salvador

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This asymmetric concrete chapel by EMC Arquitectura teeters on the edge of a mountain in El Salvador .

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

Neighborhood studio EMC Arquitectura designed Cardedeu for a grassy plot on a mountain that runs down to the shores of the Coatepeque lake – a volcanic basin in western El Salvador.

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

The chapel has two open sides, created to take advantage of becoming “in such a privileged location with spectacular views”.


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These openings also allow constant cross-ventilation by way of the interior, assisting visitors to cope with the tropical climate.

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

Concrete frames raise the structure off the ground and support 1 pointed corner that hangs over the edge of the hillside. The boxy volume tapers towards the back, creating a smaller sized opening that serves as an entrance.

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

“The chapel is intended as a landscape scene and is handled like an austere space with a single material, to highlight the lake and mountains,” mentioned the architects.

“It is like a box of extruded concrete where two covers are removed.”

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

1 of two intersecting I-beams, which help the structure internally, is reduce brief to type a cross shape that sits off-centre at the front of the chapel. Rows of wooden pews face the cross, and beyond it towards a panoramic view of the landscape.

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

The surface of the concrete is left exposed and is striped by the wooden timbers utilized as formwork.

The space within is merely furnished with rows of wooden pews, an altar and a concrete lectern.

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

A cluster of stone and metal-framed buildings sit to 1 side of the chapel, forming an events space, a restaurant and hotel.

Timber screens and pivoting metal panels partially enclose the structures to give fragmented views of the surrounding landscape, whilst other sides are left entirely open to the components.

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

“The use of regional supplies – wood from a nearby farm and stones from the regional quarry – tied the project to the materiality of the region,” said the studio.

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

“At the very same time, the introduction of foreign components such as concrete and steel allowed us to develop structures that project more than the ground and generate sensations of floating amongst trees or even flying over the lake.”

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

Snippets of scenery can be glimpsed between the walls on the journey amongst the blocks, but the full lake view is only revealed completely from within the chapel.

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

“Circulation amongst the volumes composing the project is especially fragmented with the goal of limiting or enhancing user views along the route,” said the team.

“We generated a series of different relationships between the built and the organic, dissolving in some cases the limit of the interior and exterior.”

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura

Photography is by Tom Arban.


Project credits:

Style: Eva Hinds, with Javier Rosa
Project director: Javier Rosa
Design and style group: Walberto Lara, Georgina Alfaro
Visualisation: Boris García
Structural design: Vladimir Escobar
Lighting: Luis Lozoya
Landscape: Arborea – Bárbara López

Cardedeu by EMC ArquitecturaPlace program Cardedeu by EMC ArquitecturaWebsite program Cardedeu by EMC ArquitecturaFloor strategy Cardedeu by EMC ArquitecturaCross section  Cardedeu by EMC ArquitecturaExtended section
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