The project is entitled The Journey and is inspired amongst other by James Turrell's work.
“My desire is to set up a situation to which I take you and let you see. It becomes your experience.” 1
The International one-stage architecture ideas competition Site Chapel invited the contestants to develop and submit compelling ideas for the design of a Site Chapel located on the Pessegueiro Island, in Porto Covo, Portugal. “The Pessegueiro Island is located about 250 meters from the coastline, near the old fishing village of Porto Covo, in southwest Portugal. On the north side of the island, one can find the remarkable space of the old quarry where stone blocks were cut from the ground and thrown into the sea in order to connect the Pessegueiro Island to the small islet “Penedo do Cavalo”. The construction of the Fort “Santo Alberto” in a prominent location on the Pessegueiro Island and the Fort of “Nossa Senhora da Queimada” located on a cliffside on the coastline aimed to defend the coast from pirate attacks at the end of the sixteenth century.”
"The Site Chapel is a place of solitude and contemplation, an intimate space for reflection and a platform for meditation which offers a unique experience within the remarkable landscape; it is a reflective journey and contemplative walk through memory, time and silence."2
Meditation is the process of quieting the mind in order to attain an inner state of awareness and mindfulness and intensify personal and spiritual growth. In order to achieve this state of mind, one has to distance himself from his thoughts and measure them in scale and importance. The Journey is a pilgrimage, an experience towards self awareness, a gateway to the contemplation of cosmos, time and landscape. The pilgrim can stay one day on the island leading a transformative sensory experience, while he moves between three stops linked by a natural path and simultaneously three different perspectives of experiencing life.
The Quarry baths
The boat docks in the island’s harbour early in the morning. The pilgrim follows the path north towards the quarry. A white volume stands as a gate and a locker room to the quarry baths. In the negative space created by the desire to connect lands, water now invades to reconcile history and present. The pilgrim leaves his clothes and enters the path of water that has inserted to the core of the quarry. The quarry baths offer a purification of body and mind surrounded by the texture and matter of the island, water, silence and shadow.
Leaving the baths, now while the sun is up, the pilgrim follows the path to the Observatory. The Observatory is a directed environment for experience and contemplation. The starlike machine frames the view of all the evidence of collective memory and historical continuity surrounding it; the fort of Sant Alberto, the roman archaeological remains and the fort Nossa Sra. Queimada and the village of Porto Covo in the mainland. Once passing the gate, the pilgrim enters a sanctuary in the core of which he is able to observe and contemplate sitting across each window or in the heart of the Observatory.
The Star Shelter
As the day is winding down, the pilgrim follows the path past the roman remains and the fort to the Star Shelter. There he finds a staircase, pointing west to the sun that is plunging in the sea. The Star Shelter is a transparent sphere reflecting the natural elements, the sea and the sky. The pilgrim can lie in the center of the sphere which forms a comfort resting area, watch the sunset and indulge in an archetypic cosmos where the powers of nature meet. There he sleeps protected under the stars with the sound of the ocean.
A new day begin as the sun rises at the top of the staircase. As the pilgrim leads the way of return and the journey through memory, time and silence has ended all new beginings stand before him.